Govt Outlines Plans to Increase Spending, Improve Access to Healthcare

By , 22 Sep 2020, 11:54 AM Politics
Govt Outlines Plans to Increase Spending, Improve Access to Healthcare pixabay.com sasint CC-by-0

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STA, 21 September 2020 - PM Janez Janša said the government will discuss the fifth omnibus bill bringing anti-coronavirus measures this week and the bill will also bring funds to cut waiting time in healthcare. The bill will moreover feature measures designed to prevent the spring scenario, when practically all non-urgent medical services were suspended.

This is what Janša said in parliament on Monday as he answered a question posed by Anderj Rajh from the opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), who urged better access to healthcare also at a time of rising Covid-19 cases.

Janša admitted that the epidemic, even if it lasted in Slovenia a relatively short period of time, caused some problems in access to healthcare.

He fears this could happen again if people fail to respect the measures designed to stop the spread of coronavirus.

However, Janša announced the government would do all in its power for the spring situation not to repeat.

"We are in a serious situation when a debate on this is welcome," he told the National Assembly as it opened the September regular plenary.

He rejected the notion that the government had failed to act, having earmarked more than EUR 210 million for healthcare.

While there will be enough funds for the healthcare system, the problem is also organisation and capacities, he said, adding both issues were being addressed.

Rajh believes that a patient needs to get access to a medical treatment when they need it.

He proposed that parliament discuss Janša's reply to his question as part of a broader debate in parliament, and the MPs will vote on his proposal on Thursday.

A similar question came from Lidija Divjak Mirnik from the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), who also said public healthcare rather than private should be strengthened.

But Janša said the word "public healthcare" had been abused for years. "The more we talk about supporting public healthcare, the more [doctors and nurses] run away."

He announced the government would also address this issue, but said there was a shortage of staff. He noted the EU being a common area, meaning one can seek employment around the bloc where one is better paid.

Janša also announced talks to exclude the services part of the public sector from the uniform public pay system would start soon to set up a new system.

"If this problem is not solved, waiting time in Slovenian healthcare will further deteriorate, regardless of how much funds it gets," he said.

There have been demands to exclude various professions from the public sector pay system, with doctors pushing for higher pay for years.

However, responding to the STA's query, the Ministry of Public Administration said it had nothing to add to Janša's statement.

Health Minister Tomaž Gantar meanwhile told the STA that excluding at least healthcare from the public sector pay system was feasible.

His ministry and the FIDES trade union of doctors are to set up a task force that would try to come up with different remuneration criteria, he explained.

Gantar believes that a more motivating pay system is needed, which is what the task force will try to come up with.

However, this does not mean doctors will get higher pay immediately, he said, indicating they were willing to wait with their demands for some time.

"But we absolutely don't want to postpone these problems to some undefined future," the minister added.

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