Latvia's hospitals consider cutting meals to pay energy bills

Take note – story published 1 year ago

As energy prices rise, hospital costs are estimated to at least double. As one of the solutions, Latvian Hospital Association is proposing giving up part of the compensated meals for patients, Zemgale regional television reported August 18.

As reported earlier by LSM, major hospitals have already stated they would not be able to cope on their own and require state support. Also regional hospitals have to think of solutions. For example, Jelgava City Hospital has now estimated that at least EUR 300,000 will have to be found extra by the end of the year.

Kārlis Smilga, Chairman of the Board of Jelgava City Hospital, said: “Of course, we will do everything to make the patient feel it last. Our plan is not to switch off any of the electrical equipment, refuse to perform diagnostic services, reduce heat temperature to 16 degrees in the rooms, or give up any meal. We certainly won't. Because it would be the most extreme case, and it could harm the patient's health and the possibility of recovery.”

By the end of September, Jelgava City Hospital plans to switch off gas heating and connect to municipal heating, which uses woodchips. Other works are also being carried out to reduce the consumption of energy resources – the warming of the roof and the inspection of windows.

All of this will save energy costs by 30%, but if the increase is 4-5 times, it will not cover everything.

Smilga said: “We can suffer losses to a certain limit. If we go over it, not only Jelgava hospital, but all Latvian hospitals can start to be in debt to suppliers.”

According to the Latvian Hospital Association, hospitals should foresee new investments, such as energy efficiency of buildings, switching to another type of heating, setting up solar panels, or so on. It is also possible to save the number of meals in the hospital, for example by involving co-financing of the patient.

President of the Latvian Hospital Association Jevgēņijs Kalējs noted: "The state is currently paying €3 for three meals of hospital catering. For €3 our caterers refuse to feed patients. Consequently, solutions need to be considered, we offered to reduce the number of meals. We have already written a letter to both the National Health Service and the Ministry of Health on catering costs, to find an opportunity to offset the increase in energy resources and electricity."

The Ministry of Health has estimated that extra costs by hospitals can reach €15 million by the end of the year, representing a 100% increase in costs. Proposals for aid to entrepreneurs, including hospitals, are pending from the Ministry of Economics. New Cabinet regulations regarding the support of European funds in the warming of buildings are being discussed with the parties involved.


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