Auditors check hospital bills

Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that auditors have been appointed to keep a check on hospital finances in a move aimed at stamping out illegal spending practises costing the state millions of euros every year. Avramopoulos said the ministry has appointed the auditors as the govenment prepares to implement tighter controls over medical supplies. «The message is clear. A lack of transparency and corruption will not be tolerated. Wherever there is a law being broken there will be exemplary punishment and administrative penalties,» said the minister. The auditors will complete their checks by the end of the year and hand over their findings to a new government committee overseeing health expenditure. The government plans to submit to Parliament at the start of next year a draft bill that will transfer the monitoring of hospital purse strings to a joint ministerial committee. According to sources, the Finance Ministry has already stepped up checks on hospitals through its Special Investigation Service (SIS) after increasing reports of employees fixing tender deals, in effect awarding contacts to a limited number of suppliers in exchange for a kickback. It is hoped tighter controls will reduce spending in the sector by about half a billion euros, according to ministry estimates, as part of government plans to tighten fiscal policy. Separately, the minister also said that people suffering from a permanent disability will be given a lifelong social security card rather than having to renew it every two years, as required by current regulations.