The Bridge party on Wednesday published measures it would insist on in a forthcoming reform of the health system, underlining the principle of equality and equal access to medical services for all citizens and dismissing speculation that it is in favour of the further privatisation of the health system.

"The availability and good organisation of health services for all citizens under equal conditions is our obligation. The right to health is a fundamental human right," Bridge members said in their seven-point proposal for the reform of the health system covering basic health care, rationalisation and financial stabilisation of the system, implementation of urgent measures to prevent the emigration of medical workers, defining strategic projects, de-politicisation, a reform of the health insurance system, and a reform of the hospital system.

The party said in a statement that it was against the further privatisation of the health system and advocated more entrepreneurial spirit in the health sector.

It said that the lack of funding in the health system was due to a number of factors, including the uneconomical use of resources in running the system which it described as too big and inefficient. The reform of the system which Bridge envisages includes a new model of joining hospital services as well as concrete measures designed to stop the emigration of doctors.

The party said that it would also request a review of the national master plan for the development of hospitals adopted by the outgoing health administration, which Bridge said had not come to life.

The plan should be changed to integrate functional activities rather than hospitals, and their financial sustainability should be clearly analysed. The health administration should no longer have advantage in defining health policies in relation to other stakeholders - employers, patient associations, trade unions, medical chambers and others, said Bridge.

 As for the hospital system, Bridge called for urgently accrediting hospitals and issuing them with the necessary certificates and for analysing the operation of the Hospital Accreditation Agency or abolishing it.

The party called for adopting, based on a consensus, a clear national plan for the development of the hospital system, a continued analysis of medical technologies, the establishment of a central register of medical equipment, as well as the downsizing the non-core services in the health system.

As for the reform of the health insurance system, Bridge said it would advocate a policy of the real prices of health services. "The health administration must not politically define prices," said the party.

Bridge said it would insist on depoliticising management structures in the health system at all levels and on "a policy of zero tolerance to any criminal activity, nepotism, corruption and misuse of social property for private interests."

As for basic health care, Bridge proposes that it be ensured for all citizens, based on the principle of social solidarity, and that the jurisdiction of community health centres, as the basis of the health system for more than 90% of users of health services, be clearly defined.

The party also proposes implementing urgent measures to improve the status of doctors to stop their emigration, including the signing of a collective agreement for doctors and including them in collective bargaining on their work conditions.

The party also said it would advocate the continuation of strategic projects that had been launched and the defining of a plan for hospital capacity development for the period until 2030, as well as the further development of health and wellness tourism.

Asked about the proposed reform measures, Ines Strenja Linic of Bridge said that the party would soon discuss its proposal with representatives of the Patriotic Coalition.

"The reform of the health system is continuing, after the exit of the Health Insurance Institute from the state treasury things have started to change for the better, but a number of things remain to be dealt with. Some of the hospitals are in the black, except those that are run by politically appointed directors. We will make the entire system more patient-oriented, and shortening waiting lists (for medical examinations) should not only serve cosmetic purposes. A certain level of health care standard must be available to all Croatian citizens," Strenja Linic said.

Asked who would be the new health minister, she said that no concrete names had been discussed yet. "It must be someone capable of carrying out the reform. I think that the final proposal will be made by the Patriotic Coalition, but the Prime Minister-Designate will have the final say," she said.

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