Latvia's hospitals ask for substantial funding increase

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Latvian hospitals were granted about a third less money in 2023 than necessary, the Latvian Hospital Association (LSA) said on January 25.

The association said that this year they were granted less funding than necessary and that inflation, which is around 19% in health care against the previous year, was not taken into account. Hospital leaders are calling for funding to be found in the state budget, or to review the funding arrangements by providing hospitals with the possibility of withholding this money from patients. Otherwise, the number of patients and the availability of services will decrease and the medical fees will increase.

The head of the association, Jevgēņijs Kalējs, said the funding cuts and additional inflation, as well as the government's decision to raise the minimum wage, which isn't compensated, will have a significant impact on patients' treatment and access to services in 2023.

"This, first of all, increases the direct costs of hospitals, but secondly reduces the pay gap between the low-skilled and professional workforce. The low pay makes it difficult to attract staff, we cannot provide, for example, a sufficient number of nursing assistants and nurses. Existing staff will have to work overtime, which naturally affects the quality of work, promotes burnout and increases hospital costs for overtime," explained Kalējs.

Hospital representatives warned that as costs rise, the result is simple: the service is either unavailable or cost increases have to be compensated for. If the state is unable to find funds in the budget, then hospitals are calling on the management of the Ministry of Health to swiftly address the issue of patient co-payments or to exclude individual services from the state's basket of paid services. This would make it possible for patients to get the service they need for their own resources.

A similar opinion is also held by Rinalds Muciņš Chairman of the Board of Stradiņš Hospital:

"In the calculations we have received from the National Health Service, we see that the cost of treating and maintaining one patient will be the same as in 2022, but the question is how it is possible at all mathematically at huge inflation?

"Hospital costs are not just rising heating or electricity bills, costs have climbed in all aspects: catering, medicines, maintenance costs, bed-washing, and others. We simply cannot provide the service at the same cost as last year. In addition, it should be noted that after two years of Covid-19, patient flow has increased and demand for medical services has climbed. "

Representatives of the Latvian Hospital Association and hospital leaders meet on Wednesday with the Minister for Health, Līga Meņģelsone (United List) to find a solution. Hospital leaders pointed out that if no constructive solutions are found, hospitals will be forced to limit the range of services offered and queues on state-paid services will become even less accessible.

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