Health ministry announces further spending cuts in 2011

Health Minister Andreas Loverdos on Thursday announced that his ministry will strive to make further spending cuts in 2011, in cooperation with the finance ministry. After a meeting with EU-IMF inspectors, Loverdos said the ministry was considering three alternative plans for reducing spending to present to the finance ministry on Thursday night.
The minister estimated that spending cuts of at least 100 million euro out of the 2.35 billion euro currently spent on health were feasible. The final size of the cuts or the total estimated cost of spending reduction will be announced on Friday.

He reported that the ministry had so far achieved savings of 168 million euros on hospital spending for pharmaceuticals, hospital supplies and tests during the first trimester of 2011 relative to the same period in 2010.

Loverdos said that the ministry's medium-term programme had seven specific targets and had been accepted by the EU-IMF troika experts. He admitted, however, that there had been a discussion about restructuring hospitals and that final decisions will be announced on July 1.

The minister warned also that if the programme failed to meet its targets, the ministry would "put down the scalpel and take up axe," reducing hospital beds by up to 10,000.

Among others, Loverdos also stated that all cabinet ministers will henceforth sign for updated versions of the Memorandum for the loans to Greece.

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