According to the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ), three major Czech hospitals
bought medical supplies and medicines without seeking competitive offers
between 2014 and 2016, in violation of the public procurement law.
Inspectors found that during that period Brno University Hospital (FNB), Motol Hospital (FNM) and the Central Military Hospital (ÚVN) also paid wildly different amounts for identical drugs and devices purchased from the same supplier.
Apart from examining the procurement process, the Office is also examining the pay-out of bonuses to the respective hospital directors.
The Czech health care sector is a frequent target of criticism from those inside looking out, those passing through, and those on the outside looking in. Scandals are fairly frequent, money for the service and praise from health care consumers often seem in short supply. We atempt to gauge the health of the sector and work out whether it is giving good value for money.
Anticorruption police have launched a criminal investigation into overpriced commissions for the institute of experimental medicine, IKEM, the daily E15 reports. The paper writes that the inappropriate dealings regarding the purchase of a hybrid operating theatre and related structural modifications may have cost the institution more than ten million crowns. Four top IKEM managers are reportedly suspected of property management crimes. Structural modifications were apparently contracted last year for a cost of 20 million crowns by the company Phar Service, which was founded by current Regional Development Minister Kamil Jankovský of the Public Affairs party and which he transferred to his son after taking office. According to E15, police are also checking into orders for maintenance and other work that the managers ordered from unspecified service companies for 30 million crowns.
The director of Prague’s Motol hospital, Miloslav Ludvík, came into the spotlight on Wednesday after footage with his remarks on corruption and VIP patients was placed on the internet. Mr Ludvík is recorded as explaining to his employees how corruption works in the hospital, and appeals to doctors to preferentially treat VIP patients. The director later told reporters that VIP patients were important for the hospital’s public relations.
A Brno hospital has filed charges against a doctor employed at the facility who admitted on tape she had accepted bribes from pharmaceutical companies. Dermatologist Eliška Jugová made the admission unaware she was being recorded by hidden camera. Earlier, public broadcaster Czech TV reported the doctor allegedly received as much as 10,000 crowns a month or “gifts” for favouring certain companies. The police are looking into the case. If it goes to court and the suspect is found guilty, she could face a ban to practice medicine - or up to three years in prison.
Earlier this month Health Minister Tomas Julinek revealed the details of his planned reforms in the healthcare sector, including a new system of fees upon visiting the doctor's or other health facilities. Since then, debate has not ceased on the issue, with the Czech Patients' Association going so far as calling the planned measures unconstitutional. At the same time experts are warning of a time bomb ticking in the Czech health care sector: the population is ageing and there are too few specialists focusing on geriatric care.
For Czechs, extensive medical care has been the norm for generations. Healthcare was free for all in this country under communism. Since the Velvet Revolution, Czechs have continued to have easy and cheap access to medical services after the national health system was changed to a social-insurance model similar to that which operates in other European countries such as Germany. This means that Czechs pay obligatory contributions to state health insurers, which are proportionate to their earnings. This entitles them to the same level of health coverage regardless
The preamble of an official publication of the Czech Health Ministry reads: "Czech healthcare is founded on the following principles: solidarity; a high level of autonomy; multi-source financing, predominantly public health insurance; free choice of physician and healthcare facility; free choice of health insurer in the framework of public health insurance and equal access to services for all the insured..."