Polish Government on Health in Krynica

Healthcare is our priority – Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki declares

The session “Investments in Health and Health Economy – Health Challenges of the State in the Context of Economic Development ” in the framework of the debate “Together for Health” gathered six members of the Polish govermment. The disussion was led by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

The Prime Minister emphasized that healthcare is a great challenge for each country and he declared that his government will seek to modernize it:

We took this responsibility very seriously and we act bravely (…). Healthcare is and will be a priority for us – he said. Morawiecki also added that expectations regarding the healthcare system differ from the existing reality not only in Poland.

The head of the government assured that the health service is treated as an important sector of the economy and its “flywheel” in many areas, especially when it comes to innovation. The Prime Minister pointed out that the current government has determined a minimum percentage of GDP to be spent on health services. “This is a revolutionary change” – said Mateusz Morawiecki. He reminded that just three years ago, less than 4 percent of GDP was spent on health services; in 2019, 4.86 per cent of GDP will be earmarked for this purpose.

Next year, with spending on public healthcare of about PLN 100 billion, we are also talking about losses up to a dozen or so billion zlotys and we are also going to confront this problem – he said. The money saved as a consequence of limiting these losses will be allocated, among others for shortening queues.

The Prime Minister emphasized that soon a number of programs will be implemented which are aimed at modernization of the health care system. Innovative solutions include e-prescription as well as electronic sick leaves and referrals. “All this to make patient identification better, to avoid irregularities and various types of abuse,” he said. Also, the Medical Research Agency is to be created as a response to changes in society and emerging new fields of medicine.

The Prime Minister concluded his speech with the promise to raise health care to a higher level:

There is certainly a lot to do, but the involvement of additional resources and the optimization of these processes is what will show people, year after year, that we are changing the system for the better.

 

 

The cross-sectoral challenge

The debate was also attended by: Łukasz Szumowski, Minister of Health, Teresa Czerwińska, Minister of Finance, Elżbieta Rafalska, Minister of Family, Labor and Social Policy, Jerzy Kwieciński, Minister of Investment and Development and Marek Zagórski, Minister of Digitization .

Teresa Czerwińska talked about the current amendment to the Act on healthcare services financed from public funds, assuming that the financial outlays for the public health care system will grow annually,  to reach not less than 6 percent of GDP in 2024. . She added that the government is trying to secure funds for this purpose in the budget.

If we look in a broader perspective, even in the years 2015-2019, we can see that expenditures on health from public funds in general  will increase of nearly 30%, from PLN 75 billion to nearly PLN 100 billion

Łukasz Szumowski stressed that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is implementing what he announced in the expose, and he treats healthcare as a priority. He also added that shortage of medical staff is also a great challenge to be faced:

We have long-term backlogs in health care fees. The average salary in the economy grew much faster than in health care.

It is a huge challenge to meet the expectations of patients who want shorter queues, better access to specialists and the same quality of services regardless of where they live. “The Polish patient often waits too long. We have very good professionals, very good equipment, but too late” – he said, stressing that the decision will be taken soon about the increase in the financing of outpatient specialist care.

Digitization and computerization are the next areas where changes must be introduced.

It is a tool that we can use to introduce quality-based medicine to pay not for the procedure, but for the result of keeping the patients in good health so that they would have less absence at work and do not have to use pensions or other benefits as a chronically ill person – said prof. Szumowski.

Elżbieta Rafalska said that employers pay PLN 6.3 billion for sick leaves. She added that the state spends most money on short-term benefits, which represent 56 percent of all benefits.

Annual expenses related to sick leave are PLN 21 billion, of which PLN 8 billion is subsidized from the budget – she said. It shows clearly how the problem of health in connection with the employee’s situation is important.

In her opinion, the prevention is also a challenge:

This is the cheapest way, the best for all of us, to maintain long health, and the indirect effects of what is happening in the health area are collected in my resort – she added.

The minister also pointed to the need to improve health care over pregnant women, young children and standards of perinatal care. She added that the aging of the society and the need to look after chronically ill family members is also a challenge.

The Minister of Investment and Development, Jerzy Kwieciński, emphasized that expenditures on health care are treated as development expenditures. He stated that the EU countries, which have the best results in health care, spend 10 to 12 percent of GDP for this purpose.

If we add to the budget spending [on health care], which start to reach about 5 percent, spending in the private sector, then we have about 7 percent. This is about 1.5 times less than in EU countries and twice less than in the United States – he said.

The minister of digitization Marek Zagórski said  that the department of health implements solutions that for many years seemed unreachable, including e-prescription, e-referral and e-sick-leave.

We have a key solution that will formally come into force since September 11 and will change the digital identity system into a federated system. The change will mean increasing the availability of electronic identification means, because they will be available not only to the administration – he announced.

Government spokesman Joanna Kopcińska emphasized that research results show that healthy lifestyle contributes to extension of life in 70%. Medical treatment accounts for only 30%.

 

Unfortunately, due to underfunding, for many years, areas such as prevention and education were pushed to the bottom on the list of priorities – she said.

The moderator of the panel, a member of the Presidium of the Social Council “Together for health” Piotr Czauderna, was convinced that following the world on health expenditures is the only desirable way.

One should also be aware that our health care system was planned 15, 20 years ago in a completely different financial, social and demographic situation. You can not expected that it will reflect contemporary challenges. Therefore, it is natural that we have to try to change it in a evolutionary, but also deep way.