Govt takes measures to cut short wait times in healthcare
The extra money, roughly EUR 10 million, will be secured by the Health Insurance Institute (ZZZS), Health Minister Aleš Šabeder told reporters after Thursday's government session.
"With the annex III we're making it possible to pay for a larger scope of services, in particular where waiting times are unacceptably long," he said.
The ZZZS will be able to earmark EUR 10 million extra to reduce wait times after the National Assembly passed legislative changes on Tuesday that increase state budget funds for doctor trainings and internships, thus reducing the cost on the ZZZS.
The annex makes it possible for the extent of planned select specialist outpatient services to be surpassed by 15% instead of 5% as stipulated so far.
These include urological, otorhinolaryngological, cardiological and vascular medicine services, as well as those in paediatrics, gastroenterology, clinical genetics, pulmonology, gynaecology and psychiatry.
Under the annex it will also be possible to exceed by up to 15% the planned scope of operations of varicose veins and hernia, among other things.
Vaccination of adults, along with pre-inoculation examination, performed by general practitioners, will be paid for based on realised procedures without restrictions.
"We believe this will make vaccination more accessible to adults and reflect positively on the vaccination rate for flu and tick-borne encephalitis," said Šabeder.
The annex's adoption was needed to start a pilot project to optimise waiting times, after the ministry examined the situation on the ground for orthopaedic procedures for which waiting times are excessive.
They have found that waiting lists for first examinations have been rising by 3.5% a year and that 11% of patients never turn up for the examination; as many as 83% bookings are for specific doctors selected by patients or recommended by staff.
The ministry is proposing that surgery cancellations are taken into account in registration of waiting patients, and that operations are also conducted in the afternoons and on Saturdays.
"If specialist examinations were conducted in the afternoon as well, the lists of those who wait unacceptably long could be reduced by 13%. If outpatient procedures and operations were also performed on Saturdays, we'd reduce the number of waiting patients by a further 3%," said the minister.
This, coupled by extra capacities to perform surgeries, would make it possible to eliminate excessive waiting times for orthopaedic services completely by 2024, the ministry's projections show.
Based on the results, similar projects would follow in the fields where waiting times are unacceptably long such as dermatology, neurology, cardiology and rheumatology.