Fighting corruption in hospital supplies

One of the Health Ministry’s main concerns in 2007 will be changing the way hospitals and welfare organizations obtain their supplies. Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos has said he will table a bill in Parliament early in the year setting out a new system that is expected to put an end to the confusion which he said «allows for the development of parasitical activities.» The main philosophy of the new system will be based on a system of bidding, control and the monitoring of supplies from a central point, aimed at guaranteeing as much transparency as possible as well as better planning in order to save considerable resources. In fact it is expected to result in savings of up to 500 million euros a year, which could then be reinvested in the health sector. Avramopoulos recently said such an amount would allow for the recruitment of 13,000-15,000 nurses without putting a burden on the budget. The sum of 50 million euros could be saved by reducing the number of regional health administrations from 17 to seven, which is provided for in a bill already tabled in Parliament and expected to be passed early in the year. The ministry’s plans for the year also include the gradual introduction of a primary healthcare system, family doctors and a network of primary healthcare services both in cities and the provinces to absorb the majority of patients who do not require hospitalization. This primary network will begin by making use of existing National Health System (ESY) structures, that is, local medical centers, regional and agricultural medical centers. At a later stage, the Social Security Foundation (IKA) medical and nursing services will be transferred to ESY. Finally, within the new year, a number of hospitals are to be built in conjunction with the private sector, including a children’s hospital and an oncology hospital in Thessaloniki, and general hospitals on the island of Kos, in Preveza and eastern Attica.

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