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Another effort to limit referrals

MÁRIA Sabolová opposes the use of referrals in the Slovak health care system.The MP for the opposition Christian-Democratic Movement (KDH) is again submitting a revision to the health care law that will designate those specialists who will be able to treat patients without referrals from general practitioners, the SITA newswire wrote on January 19.

MÁRIA Sabolová opposes the use of referrals in the Slovak health care system.
The MP for the opposition Christian-Democratic Movement (KDH) is again submitting a revision to the health care law that will designate those specialists who will be able to treat patients without referrals from general practitioners, the SITA newswire wrote on January 19.

Sabolová argues that referrals congest the work of a general practitioner (GP) and simultaneously, in many obvious cases, prevent patients from receiving prompt treatment.

The Health Ministry announced in December that it does not plan to cancel the current system of referrals, but that it will propose some changes.

For example, a patient who wants to go to an ophthalmologist to get a prescription for new glasses or one who wants to visit a psychiatrist will no longer need a referral from a GP.

“We informed about the changes in the system at the end of 2008 and we already have them prepared,” said Zuzana Čižmáriková, a spokeswoman at the Health Ministry.

“If the changes are incorporated into bills, which the parliament will debate in February, they should become effective in the middle of 2009.”

Patients in Slovakia currently need a referral from their general practitioner to visit specialists and for these visits to be covered by the public health insurance system.

Patients who have an accident or who have had a sudden change in their medical condition do not need a referral. Also, patients suffering from chronic diseases do not need referrals when visiting the specialists who are treating them.

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