Doctors will offer specific time appointments

But only on a voluntary basis.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: SME)

Patients will be able to make specific time appointments with some doctors, as the parliament approved the introduction of voluntary overtime hours. The doctors will be able to claim a maximum fee of €30 for the appointments.

The change, sponsored by Health Minister Tomáš Drucker (a Smer nominee), will be implemented as of May 2018, the TASR newswire reported.

Appointments scheduled for these additional hours will not be covered by public health insurance.

“I consider this change to be good and systemic...It paves the way for more stringent conditions regarding health payments,” said Drucker, as quoted by TASR, adding that this will also dramatically increase access to health care during regular doctors’ opening hours. “Health providers will now be forced to treat everyone equally, even patients who visit during regular hours.”

Opposition critical

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The legislation received scathing criticism from the opposition. Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) chair Richard Sulík claimed that the government is clueless when it comes to health reform.

“What this desperate cabinet is displaying here is pure chaos,” Sulík said, as quoted by TASR. “Our health team will present a comprehensive health reform soon.”

The reform should include the debt removal for state-owned hospitals, he added.

The new measure is non-systemic and anti-social as people will be forced to pay for health care twice – once via health insurance and then in appointment fees, said Marek Krajči, MP for the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO).

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“This measure serves as evidence of the ministry’s incompetence in tackling real problems plaguing the health sector in Slovakia,” Krajči claimed, as quoted by TASR, adding that the legislation legalises direct payments to health care, which does not sit well with OĽaNO.

The opposition party would prefer to see the multi-source financing of the health sector or additional insurance options.

Moreover, additional working hours for doctors will work to the benefit of private establishments, which enjoy affluent clientele that can afford to pay appointment fees.

“Yet our elderly will continue to wait the entire day at overcrowded waiting rooms in hospitals," said Krajči, as quoted by TASR.

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