Doctors, patients, hospitals and human rights activists filed a declaration against the limits in healthcare

The participants in the National Round Table on Reforms and Healthcare without Restrictions insist that the government restores the principle “the funding follows the patient”

“We do not accept and will not accept in the future the activities of the medical institutions to limit and thereby to put bounds on the rights of patients to have access to timely and quality treatment.” So begins the declaration which has been signed by the Center for the Protection of the Rights in Healthcare, the Federation Bulgarian Patients’ Forum and the Bulgarian Association for Patient Rights, the National Association of Private Hospitals, the Association of Municipal Hospitals, and the directors of more than 30 hospitals. The participants were against the norms that lead to the administrative closing down of hospitals, the forced mergers, and the imposing of administrative limitations on the construction of new hospitals. According to them, the success or failure of a hospital should depend entirely on whether the patients are satisfied or not by the treatment provided.

“We insist that the government restores the principle “the funding follows the patient ” and creates the necessary rules for the effective and objective control by the institutions, as well as by the consumers of medical services, over the quality of medical activity,” states the declaration.

According to a reference of the Health Fund,  provided to the Medical Association, from March to July the hospitals have exceeded their limits for BGN 31.8 million, which at the end of the year is expected to reach BGN 60-65 million. In a letter to the NHIF the chairman of the BMA Dr. Ventsislav Grozev points out that the healthcare providers are becoming “unpaid donors of the healthcare system.” The Professional Association recalls the legal precedents so far which show that ultimately the NHIF will have to pay the hospitals for the performed activities together with the accrued interest.

Stoycho Katsarov from the Center for the Protection of the Rights in Healthcare stated that all agree that currently the system is not good and needs to change, but he is skeptical whether the reforms undertaken would lead to the desired effect. “The healthcare system would be at its best when it is viewed as a market that offers business services, and not as an administration,”  he noted.

The National Association of Private Hospitals commented that the limitations achieve the opposite of what the government claims, namely that the reform works in favor of a higher quality and comprehensive treatment. “The patient goes to the hospital, where he is told he cannot be admitted because of the restrictions. He returnes home and waites to be admitted by this particular doctor at this hospital which he has chosen while his illness is getting worse and his treatment is becoming more expensive. Doctors are beginning to lose confidence in the system and motivation. What this reform achieves is a more expensive treatment, not better quality. ”

Patients’ representatives stressed that the populist statements of politicians that the restrictive policies are in the interest of patients, are not true. “When you undertake reforms in healthcare, it is useful to hear the voice of both – the patient and the professional organizations.”

“If someone steals through clinical pathways, this should be controlled and determined by the NHIF,” said the chairman of the Association for the Protection of Patients and noted that the vicious circle of generating activity that exceeds the limit is due to the planned budget deficit of the NHIF in the recent years .

“We need an urgent discussion on the subject matter of the healthcare budget for 2016,” said the representative of the Supervisory Board of the NHIF Grigor Dimitrov. As an employer,  the representative of the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria in the Supervisory Board was adamant that the limitations are not the way to manage any kind of activity.

The Roundtable participants agreed on the idea that the state should take care to increase the collection of the health insurance contributions, as well as the payment of the full amount. They insisted on increasing the percentage of the GDP for healthcare, which is separated from the budget. The guild accepts the stated intention of the government to provide comprehensive treatment in full, observes that it is available not only through the impoverishment of the structures, but also through organizational and financial mechanisms.