The Slovenia Times

Head of UKC Ljubljana hospital sees no reason to step down

Health & Medicine

Ljubljana - Jože Golobič, director general of Slovenia's main hospital, UKC Ljubljana, sees no reason to step down as he was urged by Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan on Tuesday. In a note to the minister, PM and members of the UKC council obtained by the STA, he rejected all accusations and labelled the call for resignation a political move.

Loredan told the press on Tuesday Golobič 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.

But Golobič disagrees. He said debates in the media would not solve the problems of Slovenian healthcare. "The reasons for tensions and waiting times are not a new thing, they are the result of poor investment in the last two or three decades, failed projects [...], pay anomalies and unreasonable education system that generates wrong or not enough of medical staff," he wrote, also pointing to the Covid-19 epidemic.

He also highlighted some demanding medical problems that the UKC has managed to overcome despite the lack on nursing staff, difficult working conditions and the current pay system.

"Working at UKC Ljubljana is not a job, but a way of life, probably for all of us 8,500 who work here," he wrote, stressing the need for leadership continuity.

In the last seven years, the hospital had a different director general every year and a half, which prevents any kind of long-term planing or reaching of long-term goals, he said.

He noted that it had taken almost 10 months for the previous government to give him a full term, because he was apolitical, and "I am obviously being dismissed by a minister of the next, opposite government" for the same reason.

According to Golobič, the public procurement situation improved significantly in the last year and a half and the claims about poor business results are not true. The ministry said the hospital had a massive loss, which would be even higher without the EUR 24 million in state aid. But Golobič said the hospital received this money for 2021, so it had been included in last year's results.

The contract with the ZZZS health insurance fund was realised only to the tune of around EUR 9.6 million this year, and not EUR 19 million, as the ministry accuses the UKC management, Golobič said. Total revenue is therefore EUR 1.3 million behind plan, he added.

As for the delay in the energy renovation of the hospital's main building, which may lead to suspension of EU funding of the project, Golobič said the ministry had been ignoring the hospital's many calls for a meeting to discuss the matter. He noted the ministry was the investor.

Responding to criticism that UKC Ljubljana offered only a small amount of services as part of latest effort to reduce waiting times, worth around two million euros, which the minister said was "at the level of an average private practitioner", Golobič said every single patient sent through the National Institute of Public Health had been treated.

Waiting times got longer in the entire system, while UKC Ljubljana managed to conduct 55,000 first appointments more than planned. "Still, the number of patients waiting for the first appointment is increasing, which indicates that the reasons are ... systemic."

It is obvious that the flow of patients from the primary sector is notably higher, which is probably the result of significantly poorer accessibility of services during the epidemic, he said.

While agreeing that staff is working overtime more, he said it was not true that the circumstances were the same. The number of nursing staff is lower by the month and there is more absences from work, so the staff working is working overtime, he explained.

Golobič thus sees no reason to step down but plans to honour the decision of the UKC council if it decides otherwise.

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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