Health Minister: We haven’t solved the issue of bribes. There are hospitals where informal payments are made

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The issue of informal payments in some hospitals has not yet been solved, Health Minister Sorina Pintea said on Wednesday, adding that she has a “negative feedback” from this point of view.

“Unfortunately, I have a negative feedback. We haven’t solved the problem of bribery. Today I was reading some of the facts that there are hospitals where informal payments are being made. I would be interested if the medical act is conditioned, though I do not believe it. We’ve got used to go to the doctor and hand the envelope. We all do this – let’s not do it anymore,” Minister Sorina Pintea said.

Referring to the questionnaires that patients fill in the hospitals, Sorina Pintea said that this mechanism works, nevertheless the patients still do not trust the anonymity of the questionnaires: “The feedback questionnaires were introduced in 2016 and if you look at the website, the Ministry of Health publishes quarterly reports, it works, but unfortunately people do not trust the anonymity of that questionnaire. It is very safe,” the Health Minister said.

In the Romanian hospitals, patients hand money to the medical staff, both on their own initiative and upon the request of medical staff – doctors, nurses, nurses and even lifters. The ‘bribes’ range from a few tens or hundreds of RON for consultations, or simply “to be taken into consideration”, up to thousands of EUR for complicated operations.

Last week, the chief prosecutor of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi, warned about the corruption practices in the healthcare system, arguing there are major vulnerabilities which directly impact on the citizens’ life.

She exemplified a former hospital manager in Romania had collected EUR 12 million from bribes, hiding the fraud behind false documents.

Kovesi talked about more corruption cases in the healthcare, which had been already judged by the Romanian courts, yet warning that, despite the sentences, the bribe mechanisms are repetitive. Corruption is mainly spread in e-procurement, medical services, medical staff hiring, hospital budgets and granting operating permits for pharmacies.

Bribe tariffs are usually known, as they are fix percentages from e-procurement contracts or about certain sums to hire someone in the healthcare. So, to be hired as a nurse attendant one must pay EUR 1,500, and EUR 2,500 to get a nurse position. An ambulance driver has to pay EUR 1,000 to get hired.

“The corruption issue will not be solved only through investigations, but also through prevention and education,” said Kovesi, also accusing there are no efficient internal control bodies.


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