If we thought that there was no interest in saving and prudent use of money allocated for healthcare under socialism, judging by the work of the Golob government, there is even less or no interest in that in Slovenia today. Why else would 72 percent of the people with the degree of urgency marked as “very fast” on their referrals have to wait for their appointments with the specialists for longer than the maximum allowed period, while, according to the national media outlet, RTV, a few dozen appointments are still being deleted every day? And this is happening after almost 6 thousand appointments were deleted “accidentally” not so long ago, and the reaction of the Minister of Health to the news was to wave the problem away and say, “it happens.”
Slovenia has been on the brink of a collapse of our healthcare system every day since the Golob government came to power, but under the leadership of the current Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan, we have taken a significant step forward – in the wrong direction. We are no longer looking at the abyss from its edge but are instead scratching at its walls while we are rushing towards the bottom on a healthcare “roller coaster”. There was a lot of talk about reducing waiting times, yet today, according to RTV’s web portal MMC, at this very moment, some 200,000 people are waiting for their first check-up and various healthcare services, many of them longer than the acceptable waiting time, while the deletion of referrals (for reasons unknown to the government) continues. The overhaul announced for 2024 is, in reality, a return to socialism and diametrically opposed to the advice of the experts.
The shortening of long waiting times was just one more lie or empty promise made under the leadership of Danijel Bešič Loredan – why else would there be more than 49,000 patients still waiting for their first examination, most of them for dermatological, cardiological and orthopaedic examinations, longer than the acceptable waiting time? This is according to the National Institute of Public Health’s data for November, according to the public media outlet. Nearly 154,000 patients are waiting for a therapeutic-diagnostic health service. Most of these patients are waiting for an ultrasound of their jugular veins, cataract surgery and electromyography.
Is there anyone who will get the necessary medical care on time?
As many as 72 percent of all those waiting for first appointments with specialists are waiting longer than the maximum period allowed, even though the degree of urgency on their referrals is marked as “very fast”, while 48 percent of all those waiting at this urgency level have to wait for more than 14 days for therapeutic-diagnostic procedures. One in six patients that have a referral at this urgency level regularly wait for more than two years for the required healthcare service. In the last month, the inflow of new patients was lower than the number of people who had an appointment date in the last month. Up to 22,000 “eNapotnicas” (e-Referrals) are sent daily, with a total of 394,231 referrals being issued in October last year. In addition, up to 33,000 referrals are received daily, with a total of 624,496 referrals received in October.
As we have already reported, the situation in the healthcare sector is on the verge of collapse – due to seasonal respiratory diseases and the shortage of general practitioners (more than 130 thousand people are now without a general practitioner, which is the highest number in the history of our independent state) – and the Minister of Health Danijel Bešič Loredan is more than clearly losing his patience and sinking into a rhetorical abyss that a politician simply should not allow himself to fall into, as he is shifting the responsibility onto others. The fact that such irresponsibility and incompetence does not belong in such an important sector, which has been a pressing issue for years, was also confirmed by the comments on Twitter that followed the Minister’s statements on RTV, where he claimed that the current situation is the fault of doctors, who are “creating the state of emergency themselves.” “This man is really not all there. A minister who justifies his incompetence like this really has no place in the Government of the Republic of Slovenia. Unfortunately, the whole thing is looking more and more like a travesty of governance every day,” wrote Božo Predalič.
Marjan Sušelj, the representative of patients’ rights in Ljubljana, told RTV that more and more people are turning to the representatives because of the long waiting times and that it is unacceptable that this is happening at all, given the number of measures that have been taken. In a way, he confirmed that this is a return to socialism when he said that “there is a kind of social discrimination going on in the health sector.” A few dozen appointments are still being deleted every day, and the Minister believes that after the new year, we could have information on whether it is technically possible to prevent the automatic deletion of such appointments in the referral system. He also stresses that it is the responsibility of the providers to keep the waiting lists in order.
If we, as a society, or at least our politicians, do not act soon, Slovenia will quickly slide into a healthcare system we do not want – a system of expensive private healthcare and expensive health insurance accessible only to the wealthy. And instead of constantly falling for the ‘fairy tales’ and excuses that Bešić Loredan is serving up to the public, we should be clearly demanding explanations as to what is really going on and why all the other representatives of the government are staying silent on this matter.