Private help for hospital supplies?

Health Minister Andreas Loverdos said yesterday that reforms aimed at overhauling a creaking, expensive system for supplying state hospitals would be ready in 10 days and appealed to private companies interested in managing hospital supplies to come forward during that time. Addressing a conference organized by the Andreas Papandreou Institute for Strategic and Development Relations (ISTAME), Loverdos said a new system of hospital supplies – scheduled to apply as of 2012 – would be run by the companies who submit the best proposals for a more efficient system and would be supervised by the Health Ministry. If there is insufficient interest from companies in the scheme, the ministry would activate a Plan B, which envisages the transformation of an existing state company into a body to deal with hospital supplies, Loverdos said. However, the minister said the latter option would be less favorable as «it would involve the usual ills of the state sector, including slow progress and the risk of accusations of corruption.» ISTAME’s president, Elias Mossialos, told the conference that there could be a third scenario, a public-private partnership with the purchase of supplies by a state company and the support of the private sector in organizing storage and logistics. Loverdos said a rehaul of the system of state hospital supplies was crucial, as «hospital spending for 2010 is out of control.» The minister stressed the need for a rationalization of the relationship between hospitals and suppliers in order to curb the overuse of expendables and hospital equipment. Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis said that another problem was the rising cost of medicines, which increased by 33 percent in the period between 2005 and 2008, when conservative New Democracy was in power.