Parliament on Tuesday passed the planned and long discussed bill for the reform of the hospital network. Hospitals are to be divided into several categories. The first outcomes of the reform should be felt in 2024. According to the Health Ministry, the biggest hospital reform in the last 17 years should bring fewer unnecessary deaths, more lives saved and better working conditions for health professionals.
According to the reform, hospitals, their programs, and the medical services they provide are to be divided into 5 categories marking 5 levels of care. The 5th level hospitals represent the highest level providing highly specialized healthcare, e.g. heart transplant surgery. Hospitals on the 4th level will provide specialized healthcare such as highly complex neurosurgery or oncological treatments. The 3rd level will provide complex acute and planned healthcare, e.g. serious acute injuries. The 2nd level represents standard acute or planned healthcare at the regional level. And finally, hospitals on the 1st level are to provide rehabilitation or urgent outpatient healthcare.
When creating this new network of hospitals, several conditions are to be taken into consideration including the geographical availability of a hospital, the number of insured persons in its catchment area, and the minimum number of beds the hospital is able to provide.
The Ministry of Health (MH) has repeatedly emphasized that no hospitals will be closed. Beds that remained unused before the pandemic will be transformed over several years based on analyses and data into another type of care that many patients lack, therefore finding it difficult to return to their normal lives. According to the ministry, doctors, nurses and other health professionals will work with new equipment in larger teams, which will enable better management of the patient's health complications.
The hospital reform is a key part of the Slovak Recovery and Resilience Plan. This reform is the first in a series of other follow-up reforms financed by the Recovery and Resilience Plan, which is meant to lead to a comprehensive renewal of the Slovak healthcare system.