Dwindling hospital funds

news: Dwindling hospital funds

Almost half of Portuguese hospitals are facing serious financial challenges and have no budget to buy medicines and other medical supplies and equipment, according to a news report by daily newspaper Diário Económico.

At the end of 2012, Hospital de Santa Maria, Lisbon’s main hospital, was reported as only being capable of paying for power, water, food for the patients and staff wages from the annual budget granted by the Health Ministry.

Diário Económico, quoting a source from the ministry, further reports that 18 out of the 41 major public hospitals “are not complying with the law of commitment”, paying suppliers late or not at all.

Despite that fact, both hospitals and the government guarantee that hospital users and patients are not being ‘wronged’, because the law is being bypassed in order to acquire the most essential goods and medicines, while the government is working closely and individually with the hospitals to solve their specific problems.

This year, Minister of Health Paulo Macedo already announced that despite the “difficulties” expected for 2013, the government “will continue to improve healthcare services” across the country and announced the opening of new health units.

Speaking to news agency Lusa, Macedo said that in 2013 people would continue to benefit from quality health services, and cited the investment being made in a new hospital project for Lisbon, the Hospital de Todos-os-Santos.

He continued: “That’s what we will be working towards in 2013, not only to attain the sustainability of the National Health Service (SNS) in the current year, but also looking to the future.

As reported in last week’s Algarve Resident, Portugal’s Secretary of State for Health Fernando Leal da Costa had recommended that preventing illness and using public healthcare services less frequently were ways of contributing to the sustainability of the SNS.

He said: “If we don’t do anything to reduce the risk of becoming ill, the SNS will become unsustainable sooner or later.”

Medicine pricing

Meanwhile, the Government also announced that it would be altering legislation so it could lower the price of medicines in line with a “flexible” external reference pricing scheme. The countries that currently provide reference prices for Portugal are Spain, Italy and Slovenia, for having a GDP that is more similar to ours, but a Council of Ministers meeting decided last week that these reference countries would be announced annually by the Healthy Ministry in order to select the most advantageous price options for Portugal.

The measure will only take effect in 2014.