Cseke Attila promises that the measure will not lead to a new lay-off wave in the system.
Although the Romanian healthcare system is in collapse, with more and more Romanians complaining about the quality of medical services and inhuman hospital conditions across the country, the Ministry of Health continues with the restrictive policy it started a few months ago.
Health Minister Cseke Attila yesterday announced the closing down of 182 hospitals which will be merged with other ones. Of those, 111 will be actually merged, while the remaining 71 will be converted into elderly homes or emergency centres.
Attila stressed the decision regarding mergers and restructuring of the 182 hospitals will lead to doing away with 560 managing positions, including the one of director for medical care, resulting in economies worth RON 20 M.
The minister says the main reason behind the restructuring of the healthcare system is the patient. In his opinion, hospitals should provide assistance covering a variety of specialities in order to be able to offer adequate services to any patient.
‘Hospital reorganisation is one of this year’s most important objectives, required by the operation of the system and the need for appropriate treatment of patients and less by financial shortcomings, although those, too, are important,’ Cseke Attila is quoted by Mediafax as saying.
In spite of those measures, the minister reassures that no personnel will be laid off in the system. ‘In the case of mergers, the healthcare units will be turned into exterior departments of the newly established units, therefore no staff will have to go. In the case of the 71 units to be converted, the 794 doctors and 2,532 nurses will be deployed to the newly-established units or in those based in the counties of residence. We have an agreement in principle with the trade unions in that respect,’ the minister said.
Between April 1 and December 31, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour will also implement a programme for the conversion of various hospitals: ‘Development of the network of elderly homes.’
The aim of the programme is to assist 2,500 to 4,800 senior citizens in the 71 homes. According to data held by the Ministry of Labour, currently there are only 25 elderly homes with 1,570 beds financed by the state budget and local authorities; 51 units for mentally and physically disabled people and 53 units funded by NGOs. Social Services data indicates that over 2,800 individuals are still on waiting lists for a place in an elderly home.
‘With this programme that we are initiating, the state will finance for the first time without the contribution of local authorities or NGOs a number of care facilities for the elderly’, the healthcare minister pointed out. The total budget of the programme will be RON 230 M with an allocation of RON 65 M in 2011.
The merger or conversion of the 182 healthcare establishments is the result of an evaluation performed by the Ministry of Health together with the local public health departments and local governments during several months. Ten healthcare units (five in Dambovita, two in Oradea, two in Bucharest and one in Arges) were set up legally by Government decision last year.
Medical units that belong to Bucharest municipality will also be reorganised, according to General Mayor Sorin Oprescu. He added that city officials and the Health Ministry agreed on the reorganisation of several units. Thus, Caritas Hospital will become an elderly care home, while S. Longhin and St. Stefan will merge with Victor Babes Hospital. Also, the Dr. Constantin Gorgos Psychiatry Hospital will merge with the Alexandru Obregia Psychiatric Clinic Hospital, Oprescu said, quoted by Mediafax. The Bucharest mayor also gave assurances that staff working in these medical units would not be affected by the measure.