Monday, 25 March 2019

Access to health care to improve in 2016, says minister

ČTK |
29 December 2015

Prague, Dec 28 (CTK) - Changes planned by the Czech Health Ministry will improve people´s access to health care in 2016, Minister Svatopluk Nemecek (Social Democrats, CSSD) has told CTK.

Hospitals and out-patient surgeries will receive more money for medical services from health insurers so that they are not forced to decline patients.

A switch to another health insurer will be facilitated for those dissatisfied with their present insurer.

Health insurers will cover the vaccination against pneumococcus for seniors.

Proton treatment will be newly on the list of services covered by insurers. At present, its price is contractual, based on an agreement between insurers and the proton centre.

Health insurers´ revenues should reach 258 billion crowns in 2016. The insurance fees paid by employees and entrepreneurs will increase by 7.4 billion crowns year-on-year, and the fees the state pays for selected groups of inhabitants, such as children, pensioners and the unemployed, will increase by 1.8 billion.

The collected insurance money is distributed based on a ministerial directive that annually sets the prices for insurers to pay to doctors and hospitals for their services.

"All health care branches will see their revenues markedly increased by about 3 percent. This means that a sufficient volume of accessible and quality health care will be available to patients," Nemecek said.

General practitioners will receive more money if they sufficiently focus on prevention. They can also receive bonuses for after-hours services.

The Health Ministry will establish a fund in support of opening general practitioners´ new offices in remote areas threatened with a shortage of doctors.

The present regulation of screenings, childbirths and HIV treatment will be lifted for hospitals, and the regulation of psychiatric protective treatment will be lifted for out-patient specialists.

"The ministerial directive will ensure enough money for all hospitals to increase their staff´s base pay by 5 percent. This is another 5-percent increase in a row, i.e. 10 percent in two years," Nemecek said.

He said this is an important message for health workers that the government is dealing with their situation. The ministry expects the pay rise to curb the mass exodus of doctors and nurses from hospitals, which has forced hospitals to close some wards in recent years.

The trade unions, however, say a 5-percent increase will not prevent the staff´s exodus. They demand at least a 10-percent pay increase next year.

Nemecek said he also wants to keep doctors and nurses in the country by a more quality system of training. The relevant law for the training of doctors is to take effect in the second half of 2016, and for the training of nurses later.

The reconstruction of hospitals will continue next year, with the state mainly supporting the state-run hospitals that were neglected in the past, Nemecek said.

Subsidies are to go to hospitals in Prague and other cities, as well as regional hospitals.

Cancer prevention remains a crucial task next year. The ministry uses EU subsidies to support three types of screenings focusing on the detection of colon, breast and cervix tumours, Nemecek said.

The ministry also wants to implement its Health 2020 action plan including a series of preventive programmes targeting the whole population and health life style.

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