The Slovenia Times

Minister says head of UKC Ljubljana hospital should step down

Health & Medicine

Ljubljana - The management of the UKC Ljubljana medical centre no longer enjoys the support of the Health Ministry, Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan told the press on Tuesday. He said Jože Golobič, director general of Slovenia's main hospital, should resign immediately and take responsibility for poor business results and numerous missed deadlines.

"The figures are extremely problematic. The management of the largest health care institution [in the country] is beyond criticism, according to my assessment and the assessment of the prime minister. It is our responsibility to react on the spot," Bešič Loredan said at today's press conference.

It is now up to the hospital's council to decide what to do next, he said. Irma Gubanec, the new chair of the council, has been informed about the situation. The minister believes that in the next two weeks "the move will be made, the one as it should be".

For now the ministry does not have a candidate to replace Golobič, he added.

Aleš Šabeder, former health minister and current acting head of the ministry's office for oversight, quality and investment in healthcare, presented data on the work and operations of the hospital.

Providing more than a third of all healthcare services in the country, UKC Ljubljana made a loss of EUR 28 million in the first half of the year, and the trend is worsening month by month.

"If this trend continues, which is very likely, the medical centre will end this year with a loss of about EUR 60 million," said Šabeder, adding that the loss would have been even greater if UKC had not received EUR 24 million in state aid for its unrealised services.

The key reason for the poor business results is the hospital's unrealised services of EUR 19 million and the steep increase in both material and labour costs. Šabeder pointed out that this year there had been a significant increase in overtime with the number of employees remaining the same.

Moreover, UKC Ljubljana is experiencing an "extremely worrying liquidity situation" with several tens of millions of euros in overdue liabilities.

In addition to all this, the ministry also finds it problematic that waiting times have been getting longer. According to Šabeder, at the end of June there were 106,000 patients on various waiting lists, of whom more than 43,000 were waiting for their first check-up.

Under the latest effort to reduce waiting times, UKC Ljubljana offered a small amount of services, worth around two million euros, which, he said, was "at the level of an average private practitioner". Of these, only 92,000 euro of services were actually performed.

Another issue to be criticised was the energy renovation of the hospital's main building. The ministry reiterated its concerns about the risk of failing to draw the European cohesion funds needed for the upgrade and about allegations that an open call had been flawed.

It intends to take responsibility at this stage and carry out the project as well as the renovation of building's interior to a total cost of EUR 90 million. This is expected to be done by 2025 with the ministry wanting the energy upgrade to be completed by November next year.

Bešič Loredan reiterated that despite the renovation, UKC Ljubljana must not reduce its capacity at all, as it is the largest and most important health care institution in the country.

Golobič took over his full term at the helm of UKC Ljubljana at the beginning of December last year. Prior to that, he had been acting director of the hospital for less than a year after former director Janez Poklukar became health minister under the previous government.


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