Hospitals becoming financially independent hinh anh 1Many public hospitals nationwide have gradually wiped out fully-subsidised mechanisms and shifted to self-independent financial models (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Many public hospitals nationwide have gradually wiped out fully-subsidised mechanisms and shifted to self-independent financial models, according to Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien.

Starting this year, healthcare service charges also cover health care workers’ salaries.

Thanks to the mechanism, the number of health workers who are working in 18 hospitals under the management of the health ministry and paid by the State budget has been reduced by 20,599 persons. This equals nearly 1.681 trillion VND (74 million USD) a year. The number in HCM City was 1 trillion VND (44 million USD). And in other provinces, the numbers were between 70 billion VND and 100 billion VND.

The savings are being used for preventive healthcare funds and financial support funds to buy health insurance cards for people.

Since 2016, the healthcare service charges have been adjusted to help hospitals have stable incomes.

“In the past, the State paid salaries to doctors and healthcare workers. But with the new mechanism, patients pay healthcare workers,” the minister told the Nong Thon Ngay Nay (Countryside Today) newspaper.

“So, hospitals must improve their services to attract more patients. Doctors have to thank patients,” she said.

Commenting about financial self-dependence at public hospitals, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said at present the number of public hospitals and clinics at local levels is too many. Especially, the preventive healthcare system is overlapping, and it needs measures to streamline the system.

The mechanism of financial independence at public hospitals has helped enhance high-technology application in healthcare services, which has benefitted patients. But this may cause a situation to which patients only go to central-level hospitals and ignore local-levels hospitals and clinics, the deputy PM said.

Along with benefits of implementing the new financial mechanism, many public hospitals have faced difficulties.

Dr Tran Ngoc Luong, Director of the National Hospital of Endocrinology, said the hospital had to borrow money to build new treatment buildings. Every month, the hospital has to pay 100 billion VND (4.4 million USD) of loans and interest, while the total revenue is about 400-450 billion VND (17.6 million-19.8 million USD) a month.

Despite operating with financial self-dependence, the hospital has been bound by some regulations on healthcare service charges or plans of building facilities fixed by health ministry.

“The hospital currently wants to build more in-patient wards and restaurants, but the project has not yet been approved after a long time of submitting,” Luong said.

Besides, public hospitals still lack the independence to recruit staff.

The deputy PM raised his opinion that self-dependence was practical. Staff recruitment should be decided by hospitals themselves if they ensure jobs, staff’s income and healthcare service.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee, Bui Sy Loi expressed his concern that the new financial mechanism will increase healthcare service charges and overburden the medical insurance fund.

“In 2016, the over-expense was 5 trillion VND. At present, the medical insurance fund’s balance was 30 trillion VND. If the over-expense continues, the fund would be run out in few years,” Loi said. If focusing on a self-dependent mechanism, it would create a gap in people’s healthcare tasks. - VNA