2019.06.26 12:00

No hospital reform unless coalition is behind it, Lithuania's health minister says

BNS 2019.06.26 12:00

Lithuania's Minister of Health Aurelijus Vergya will not initiate a hospital reform until he has a full backing of the ruling coalition, his spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

“Minister Veryga will no longer initiate the reform himself personally,” Lina Bušinskaitė-Šriubėnė, an advisor to the minister, told BNS. “But if the ruling coalition is united in its agreement that it is necessary and creates necessary legal pre-conditions to launch it, the minister will gladly take on the leadership, something he has publicly declared numerous times.”

Veryga's attempts so far to initiate “an unpopular but much needed” healthcare reform have ended in failure, the spokeswoman said.

The ministry made the comments in response to a statement by the Order and Justice party leader Remigijus Žemaitaitis who said that it had been agreed during the ruling coalition talks not to launch the reform of regional hospitals.

“One of our requirements was (…) not to initiate the regional hospital reform, for regional hospitals not to be closed. And such an agreement was reached by the negotiating team,” Žemaitaitis told journalists.

Earlier this year, the European Commission concluded that it would be more efficient for Lithuania to consolidate its hospital network. Brussels believes Lithuania's healthcare system is no efficient enough, since much attention is given to expensive hospital treatment and too little to primary healthcare and disease prevention. The sector also lacks quality control, and patients covered by state healthcare insurance are still required to make fairly large additional contributions.