Health Ministry proposes major hospital reform

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The Latvian Health Ministry proposes dividing hospitals into four levels and changing the way the cooperate.

The Health Ministry on April 5 published a report on the healthcare system reform, reported LETA.

It provides that the first-level hospitals will ensure therapy and care of chronic patients, as well as emergency medical services 24 hours a day if the patient's life is not endangered. It's planned these hospitals will be within 60-minute reach to residents.

Second-level hospitals will ensure service in seven profiles - therapy, care of chronic patients, surgery, neurology, gynecology, prenatal and childbirth services and pediatrics, as well as emergency medical services. Also these hospitals should be reachable within an hour.

Third-level hospitals should ensure medical services in seven profiles and in addition they may provide specialized services, while fourth-level hospitals will provide services in 22 mandatory profiles and may have specialization profiles.

The planned reform also provides to estimate the number of beds in each profile that would meet the forecast demand for the health care services.

In order to make the most out of human resources, infrastructure, financial resources, and equipment, the reform provides for development of eight hospital cooperation territories in which the fourth- and third-level hospitals would develop a cooperation model with second- and first-level hospitals and medical emergency centers.

The reforms focus making healthcare services better available, but also solve problems important for medical staff, said Latvian Health Care Minister Anda Caksa in a press conference on April 5.

She said that the task of the reform is to improve public health indicators, improve the healthcare quality irrespective of the service location, solve human resource problems in the sector, and develop a strategic approach in procurement of healthcare services.

The minister said that discussion on reforms in the healthcare sector had not been easy, but the stakeholders are aware that not only structure, but also thinking should be changed.

Asked whether there is political support to the planned reforms, the minister said that there are active talks with the Finance Ministry in order to solve the financing problems. The officials are discussing an increase of medics wages next year.

Coincidentally, Latvian Radio reported on April 5 that staff at the Children's Hospital and Riga Maternity Hospital have turned to the Constitutional Court, claiming that their unpaid overtime work is unfair and not in line with the Constitution.

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