Hospitals: healthcare services might only be provided for a fee this year

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The lack of money for regional and local hospitals causes uncertainty about their future. After a meeting of the Latvian Hospital Association on March 27, hospitals estimate that medical services might only be provided for a fee starting from the autumn, Skrunda Television reported Monday. 

Last year, alarm was raised about the rising costs of energy resources and catering, along with various criteria in, for example, radiology. There is an acute shortage of money at the heart of everything, so the association hopes that the new health minister, Līga Meņģelsone, will be more forthcoming.

Chairman of the Board of the Latvian Hospital Association Jevgēņijs Kalējs said: "We calculated the services provided last year; the difference that the State has not compensated for the patients we have treated is 88 million. If we look at this year, [..] the Ministry, which agrees that the gap is 78 million, it means that, sometime in September, maybe August is the time when that funding will end, hospitals will have to think about how to provide services."

Kalējs added that the services are likely to be available only for a fee.

Jūrmala Hospital Board Chairman Egons Liepiņš said: “We spend about 5% of the savings every month so that we can cover the needs we need monthly to operate. We're losing on account of the future.”

Meanwhile, the head doctor of Kuldīga Hospital, Edgars Siliņš, said: "One is that no budget has been adopted. We had extremely great uncertainties in general over how to plan this year. Minimum wages have grown, which have not been compensated for hospitals. The minimum monthly salaries to be paid will also come into force for medical practitioners from April 1, and there is still no clarity on the funding we will have, or how rates will be recalculated, so it is very difficult to plan for the future at the moment."

Currently, the Ministry of Health has set criteria for industry associations to work in surgery, traumatology, obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics. Members of the meeting acknowledged that they could not be met due to funding or short-staffing, so they will present their vision by mid-April.

Vidzeme Hospital Board Chairman Uģis Muskovs said: "In this case, we need to balance with reality because we understand that health care funding in our country is one of the lowest in the European Union. We cannot put a bar on the short term that we will reach the European level in quality next year or two, which should be a target, but it needs funding."

The Latvian Hospital Association has 37 members – hospitals and health centers from all regions of Latvia.

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