Schuster calls for audit

PRESIDENT Rudolf Schuster has called for an independent audit of all hospitals. The president says that the check has to be carried out in order to solve the problem of huge and growing debts in the health sector.

Following a meeting with managers of two of the country's largest hospitals in Košice Schuster said that finances in health care was one of the biggest problems facing the country.

Many hospitals are facing cash crises, with some last year seeing energy and water supplies threatened and in some cases even cut-off by suppliers. Doctors and pharmacists went on strike last year over pay and working conditions and a suppliers of food to some hospitals stopped supplies over non-payments.

Meanwhile, Doctors say they may have lost millions after a health insurance company paid bills on the last day of the year.

Všeobecná zdravotná poisťovná (VsZP) paid millions of crowns of bills on December 31. Doctors say they could no longer use the money but will now have to pay taxes on it.

"In this situation our income went up and therefore our taxes," said one doctor.

The firm's general director, Eduard Kováč, denied any knowledge of the last-minute massive pay-outs.

"We didn't pay any large sums to doctors on New Year's Eve. The last thing we did was free up Sk100 million (1.4 million pounds) from extra-budgetary sources for them. And that was in the middle of December," said Kováč.

But he admitted that some money may have been paid onto accounts only on December 31. He added: "But in any case, it was not intentional."

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