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Ministry plans to cut over 6,000 hospital beds

THE HEALTH Ministry plans to eliminate more than 6,000 hospital beds as part of a cost-saving plan for the sector, but observers say the strategy, which the cabinet took under advisement on February 21, will hurt both the quality and accessibility of health care.

The largest number of beds is to be cut in the Prešov region of eastern Slovakia, where the ministry plans to eliminate more than 32 percent of existing beds. On the other hand, however, the ministry wants to increase the number of beds in the Bratislava region, arguing that many patients from rural areas of Slovakia seek treatment in the Slovak capital city, the Sme daily wrote.

Tomáš Szalay from the Health Policy Institute NGO said it was “scandalous” that the ministry planned to cut 40 percent of beds for chronic patients and 30 percent of beds for psychiatric patients. He said the ministry had chosen a poor methodology for cutting beds.

Health insurance companies also have objections to the ministry’s plans.

The majority of Slovakia’s hospitals are administered by the country’s self-governing regions. Health Minister Ivan Valentovič has called on the regions to submit definitive proposals “on how to cope with the need to optimize the number of beds” within 10 days.

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