Minister targets hospital spending

Health Minister Andreas Loverdos yesterday warned the directors of the country’s state hospitals to prepare for «three very difficult months» of spending cuts and reforms aimed at stamping out deep-rooted corruption in the health sector. «We should continue to offer patients whatever they need but we have to introduce wide-ranging spending cuts,» Loverdos told the heads of several large hospitals in the broader Athens area. Apart from checking the wasteful spending that goes on in many state hospitals, Loverdos said he wanted directors to suspend doctors believed to be getting kickbacks from suppliers and prescribing expensive medicines. Any surgeons who have shown evidence of «wasteful use of supplies» should be suspended for at least three months, Loverdos said. The minister held up two hospitals as examples to avoid – KAT in Maroussi and Aghia Olga in Nea Ionia. In the latter case, one doctor is said to have ordered 21 organs for one transplant operation. The minister added that certified accountants would be sent to 30 hospitals across the country to monitor the institutions’ expenditures. Loverdos told the hospital directors that the health sector will be the next to come under the scrutiny of international inspectors monitoring the government’s progress in curbing spending to plug a gaping budget deficit. The ministry’s general secretary, Antonis Dimopoulos, put the blame for the current situation on a handful of suppliers. «The country is being plundered,» Dimopoulos said, noting that the widespread prescription and use of expensive medicines was only benefiting suppliers. «Whatever we do, the companies are always one step ahead of us,» he said.

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