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Inflation in the healthcare sector requires urgent common European action

Date

26 Sep 2022

Sections

Health & Consumers

During the COVID-19 crisis, European hospitals faced major difficulties related to procurement  and labour recruitment shortages. But inflation is now weakening all efforts to deliver health  services in facilities. Month after month, Eurostat reports rising prices for goods and services.  Annual inflation in the Eurozone is up to 9.1%, with many countries facing double-digit inflation. 

National budgets allocated to health care are fixed annually by Member States. But, rising  costs are no longer sustainable with fixed allocations by governments, public payers or even,  in some situations, long-term contracts with insurance companies. Inflation is both threatening  the quality of medical services and limiting patient access. 

The shock is currently coming from the energy sector, but beforehand the prices of medical  supplies were already rising, salary issues were being raised by health care personnel who  were under extreme pressure during the health crisis and are now also concerned with rising  living costs. Structural costs are also no longer adapted to the emerging situation. Hospitals,  which are under enormous pressure to maintain and control their expenses, are now on the  verge of collapse.  

NOW is the time to act. Patient access is no longer guaranteed, and safety could be  compromised. All of the hospital managers' efforts to maintain high-level services are no  longer feasible without budget corrections. 

Without immediate budgetary correlation with costs, hospitals can no longer fulfil their mission.  Throughout the EU, the situation is critical and national hospital federations, whether public or  private, have already expressed their distress in the Press. As this is a problem that affects  the European social model, UEHP is calling for common recommendations to Member State  governments for a coordinated response. European inflation threatens healthcare  organizations in their commitment to provide legitimate services to the population. 

We now call for European commitment and support: 

i) To take, without delay, an immediate and active Pan EU stance in terms of health care costs  and budgets. This is absolutely necessary to ensure that hospital and related health care  services continue to be accessible to all the European population. 

ii) To apply an automatic and specific index dedicated to provision of health care to both  private & public entities, in order to maintain a direct correlation between costs and fees. 

iii) To consider Health as a main and specific priority and adjust State budgets to double digit  inflation, including financial support and fiscal adaptation so that providers can continue to  ensure quality of care.

 

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