NEWS

First aid for health system

The National Health System (ESY) is about to make «a leap forward,» Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said yesterday as he pledged to sort out hospital tenders, which are seen as a main source of corruption within the sector. Avramopoulos presented a series of draft laws at a meeting of the Inner Cabinet and was given the green light to proceed with their implementation. «They will fundamentally change the area of health in our country,» the minister said after yesterday’s meeting. The main legislation aims at changing the way that hospitals and other ESY bodies issue an average of 9,000 tenders a year for supplies and services. Last year, ESY tenders were worth some 1 billion euros. The current system is seen as being too bureaucratic and open to abuse from corrupt officials and suppliers. Avramopoulos said that he would soon be submitting to Parliament a «modern bill which will create an environment of safety and transparency for tenders.» Almost 300 ESY organizations, including hospitals, issue tenders every year which makes it difficult for authorities to monitor the process. Instead, the ministry wants to create a central committee which will oversee the process and keep track of prices of medical equipment and other supplies. Avramopoulos also wants to compile an official list of the firms which supply ESY so that their track record can be monitored. The health minister said that his next target is to keep a previous pledge to develop community medical clinics which will help alleviate pressure on overcrowded hospitals. The clinics will be the first stop for patients seeking primary healthcare. The next step in the plan is to introduce the idea of family doctors so that patients see the same practitioner each time they have a health problem. Avramopoulos said the system may compel patients to stop bribing hospital doctors for preferential treatment.