According to a recent survey from Eurobarometer as reported by daily Pravda, a massive 53% of Slovaks felt that taking bribes and abuse of position were common practice in the Slovak health service.
It was always common practice to ‘bribe’ your way to the front of the queue or into getting preferential treatment in Slovakia, with a visit to the doctor hardly ever without some form of sweet reward from the obliging patients.
The survey from 2012 shows that this ‘system’ has not changed, or at least people’s perception of it hasn’t, with as much as 61% of those asked putting healthcare at the top of the ranking of corrupt segments.
Slovakia came third in terms of the number of healthcare workers who had been offered a bribe in the past year, with 13% at least admitting to this. Neighbouring Hungary took top spot with 17% along with Romania in this ranking.
In an attempt to combat this bad image, in 2012 neurosurgeon Milan Mrázik from Žilina launched the initiative ‘Ďakujem, úplatky neberiem’, meaning “No thanks, I don’t take bribes”, which involved doctors signing a public petition declaring that they do not accept bribes or other forms of informal payments.
They would declare this by openly wearing, or displaying, a badge symbolising this stance. The initiative quickly spread and got the support of Medical Trade Unions Association (LOZ), before gaining the support of Marian Kollár, the president of the Slovak Medical Chamber (SLK). Both of these institutions say that the campaign should be continued and supported. By the publication date of the survey, 412 doctors were actively participating, constituting around 10% of the country’s doctor base.
In Slovakia a policy reducing the influence of pharmaceutical companies on doctors was long asked for. However, the submission of the draft of the new Act was by public opinion linked to one of the most influential and strongest financial groups: Penta. Penta owns one of the pharmacy chains in Slovakia.
This raised the concern that the pharmacists lobby would replace the physicians in receiving the (financial) perks by pharmaceutical companies. After a lot of debate and comments in and from the media and the National Council, the Act was amended by comments of several members of parliament and then adopted.
One of the amendments changed the Act substantially; although physicians now have to prescribe generic medication, they may still suggest a brand name in between brackets. This raises ethical concerns as the decision maker is now not clearly defined and the indication between brackets may strongly influence the patient and/or pharmacy. A thorough and systematic evaluation of this policy is needed to clearly identify all the effects.
The whole report can be viewed here.
Happy New Year to you all!
The Health Ministry could, if they had anything between the ears, improve the situation and get some serious payback from the medical gangsters.
A minimum standard for doctors surgeries would be a good start – our doctor’s “waiting room” is a filthy, draughty corridor shared with three other businesses. The person stood next to you ( there is no seating!) could be ill or just waiting to order a new garden fence.
A minimum working week for all doctors would be another good move. The article suggests surgeries are open till 2 or 3pm Err…….no. Even departments in the local hospital shut up shop at lunch time. A minimum number of evening hours for surgeries would save the country and the population a fortune in lost production and wages. A mandatory appointments system would also reduce wasted time and negate the need for backhanders. The last move should be to establish a “free phone” line direct to the tax inspectors for people to report “bent practices” – the tax men should then investigate and prosecute without mercy.
Why am I paying 57eur/month for health insurance?
Happy new year DC .
Here I sit broken hearted, spent a Penny and only Farted .
412 doctors (10%) only have signed up? Errr…… official SVK Govt stats put the number of physicians at 16.5 thousand or four times as many as the report suggests……. strange. Signing a bit of paper or wearing a badge does not mean that they are still not accepting bribes and the 90% who have not joined the initiative would suggest that the majority of quacks are quite happily taking backhanders. The really suprising thing is that the cash strapped govt. don’t take this issue seriously. The offending Dr’s don’t record these payment or issue receipts, its all tax free wonga going straight into their pockets. Someone do the math for the dimwits in the Big House.
The prescribed drugs issue needs some honest, professional scrutiny, so that’s never going to happen.