Unofficial payments in health sector drop

THE PREVALENCE of unofficial payments in the medical sector dropped slightly compared to the inquiry conducted in January 2012. 

(Source: SME)

During the past three years 21.8 percent of respondents gave something to medical staff off the books, while in 2012 it was 26 percent, according to the survey carried out by Focus polling agency for the Transparency International Slovensko (TIS) ethics watchdog between January 27 and February 3 on 1,010 respondents.

The health sector is still considered the most corrupt sector. As much as 95.2 percent of respondents said there are bribes in the sector, while 63.5 percent say the bribes are widespread, TIS wrote in a press release.

The most people (15 percent) offer unofficial payments to medical staff voluntarily, as an expression of thanks. Some 9.1 percent give them as they are convinced that this is how it works or because somebody told them to do so. Less than 3 percent of people were asked for the bribe. As much as 69 percent of respondents said that they gave the staff only official payments, the survey suggests.

Of those who gave something to the doctors off the books, 50.5 percent expected better treatment. Some 30.1 percent seek quicker surgery or examination. About 16.1 percent of respondents pay the money to secure a certain doctor.

Similarly to 2012, the unofficial payments were mostly offered to general practitioners for adults (32.1 percent), surgeons (24.8 percent) and internists (19.3 percent).

More than two-fifths of respondents offered no more than €25, while more than one quarter unofficially paid less than €100, more than one tenth less than €500 and one in 200 more than €500.

Compared with the previous survey, people are not more willing to report corruption. Only 20.2 percent of respondents said they would report it, while 62.5 percent said they would probably or certainly not do it, according to the survey.

The unwillingness to report corruption is probably one of the reasons why not many medical employees were found guilty of corruption. The TIS analysis from summer 2014 showed that during the previous three years only five doctors were sentenced with two-year conditional punishments.

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