IN SHORT

Government proposes protected hospitals list

THE HEALTH Ministry has unveiled a list of 65 hospitals it wants to protect as part of a minimum hospital network.

The network would be the basis for guaranteed agreements between health insurers and the hospitals.

The preliminary list contains 65 hospitals - 42 that provide urgent treatments and 23 specialised hospitals, the SITA newswire reported.

Smaller hospitals have voiced serious concerns about the list, claiming that this proposal would bring them to the brink of extinction.

But the ministry says it does not want to close down hospitals. Instead, it will be up to health insurers to decide whether or not to sign healthcare contracts with hospitals outside of the minimum network.

Healthcare facilities reported 36,805 beds as of October 30, 2006. The ministry wants to pare the minimum network down to 29,170 beds.

The minimum network proposal is based on expert analyses from the Health Ministry, health insurance companies, the Slovak Medical Chamber and the Slovak Medical Society.

The biggest cuts are projected for facilities that treat major organ conditions, such as heart and lung conditions. Psychiatric wards are also scheduled for cuts.

Meanwhile, the plan calls for beds to be added in the maternity and geriatric wards.

Both coalition and opposition MPs told the TASR newswire that the proposal for a minimum network of hospitals was necessary. The specific details of the network have yet to be determined.

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