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Minister Bešič Loredan on the Bosniak affair: We have opened the Pandora’s box of corruption risk



How much funding does the Ministry of Health allocate to consultants?

“Pandora’s box has opened, we have a lot of information at the ministry, people are writing to us, and all of this will have to be reviewed,” the Minister of Health said about the reactions to the information that the surgeon from UKC Ljubljana charged the hospital an additional fee.

Minister of Health Daniel Bešič Loredan responded to the events at UKC Ljubljana, where a self-paying operation was performed for a foreign woman who, in addition to paying for the operation, also had to pay a fee to surgeon Roman Bošnjak. The patient from North Macedonia was treated as part of self-pay services. She paid the final treatment bill, which amounted to 34,000 euros. At the same time, she also transferred a private fee to the Bosnian surgeon in the amount of 6,000 euros to an account in Hong Kong. After the revelation, Bošnjak submitted his resignation as head of the department of neurosurgery at UKC Ljubljana, but remains employed there. UKC handed over the documentation to the National Investigation Office and the Ministry of Health.

Minister: We need to get to the bottom of this

“It is an unacceptable act, we have obviously opened a Pandora’s box of potentially extremely serious corruption risks and acts. I hope that the competent institutions will do their job,” said the Minister of Health at the press conference. He added that on March 9, the Office for Control, Quality and Investments in Health Care sent a letter to UKC Ljubljana, in which he asked him to provide the invoice, the operating record and the rest of the documentation To date, the documentation has not been sent.

Bešič Loredan announced that the Ministry of Health will deal with two issues after receiving the documentation. First of all, they will check to what extent the neurosurgeon Roman Bošnjak abused his powers and his action is something that should be completely unacceptable. In the second part, they will check whether it is a systemic problem and whether a similar modus operandi occurs in other institutions.

My commitment has always been that to the extent that there are such high corruption risks, and today we see that there are, it must be put to the bottom.” If they judge that it is not an isolated case, but something systemic, they will introduce extraordinary administrative control at UKC Ljubljana. But before that, according to the minister, together with the management, they must make a detailed analysis of whether it is a case of one doctor or several doctors , who performed self-paying operations according to the same methodology.

They will prepare instructions for billing self-pay services

He announced that the Ministry of Health will also provide uniform instructions on how self-paying services in healthcare should be provided. “I would like to have clear instructions for the provision of self-paying services in public health institutions at all levels by the new year at the latest. Also with regard to what the price is, how much should be left to the institution, how the funds are distributed among the staff and when inspections and expert opinions are carried out before operations,” he said.

He also touched on the very amount of the fee that Bosniak charged for the given professional opinion: “Those of us in healthcare know that we can charge 1,000 or 1,500 euros for an expert opinion, which is written extensively and we spend several weeks on it, and we also pay taxes on that.” He also emphasized that doctors who are employed by a public institution cannot issue a bill for the service themselves, “that’s why we have an accounting department“.

People write with similar claims about different doctors

Minister Bešič Loredan also explained that the ministry is now receiving letters referring to various doctors from various public institutions. “People obviously now have faith that we will get to the bottom of things. But everything must be checked,” he added.

The UKC’s audit report allegedly revealed several irregularities in public procurement

Regarding the audit report of UKC Ljubljana, Bešič Loredan said that the document is a business secret and that he received it personally. For now, Bešič Loredan only said that Ernst & Young audited the deals concluded between UKC Ljubljana and suppliers over the past four years. They scrutinized supplier selection procedures, their adequacy and the appropriateness of the payment model, as well as the definition of risks in cooperation with suppliers. “Several critical inconsistencies are revealed, which have significant consequences for the institution’s reputation.”

Loredan highlighted the awarding of contracts without public procurement, or the splitting of contracts, and the awarding of public contracts after the statutory deadline. “Consistent non-compliance with the institute’s guidelines and non-treatment of recurring issues, such as missing tender opening records, missing purchase orders and priority treatment of suppliers in payments, are noted.” he stated. He added that one of the key messages of the audit report is that regulations in the field of the Public Procurement Act are very often not respected. According to the minister, the document of the audit report is being examined by the competent institutions, including the KPK, and the Ministry of Health will provide more information on the findings. together with the management of UKC explained on Wednesday.

How much funding does the Ministry of Health allocate to consultants?

Bešič Loredan also responded to accusations that the Ministry of Health concluded contracts with consultants whose total value exceeds one million euros. Bešič Loredan explained that from June 1, 2022 until today, the ministry has paid 170,000 euros to consultants, which also includes taxes and contributions. The Ministry of Health additionally explained to us that one million euros is planned for the contracts concluded so far, but these contracts will not necessarily be realized, so the actual payment may be lower.

Minister Bešič Loredan added that the ministry checked how it was with the payments to consultants during the time of the previous ministers. Previous Minister of Health Janez Poklukar according to Bešič Loredan, concluded 172 contracts worth 1,261,000 euros in a good year. Tomaž Gantar however, he is said to have concluded 157 different contracts worth 1,464,000 euros in ten months, while both ministers worked in the government of Janez Janša during the epidemic of the new coronavirus. Aleš Šabederwho was the Minister of Health in the government of Marjan Šarc, concluded 172 contracts worth 1,150,000 euros between 2019 and 2020. Just Fakin concluded 174 contracts worth 980,000 euros in six months, stated Bešič Loredan.

Source: Rtvslo

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