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The purchase of coronary stents, once again shows how exposed Slovenia's health system is to corruption risks. Foto: Reuters

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Many suspicious business practices in the healthcare system, no convictions yet

12. October 2018 ob 10:58
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

Yesterday's police searches at the UKC Ljubljana, UKC Maribor and other hospitals because of suspected corruption in the purchase of coronary stents, once again shows how exposed Slovenia's health system is to corruption risks. The key reasons for that are the long hospital waiting times and the fact that Slovenia's health system is the biggest user of public funds. The Specialized State Prosecutor's Office is looking into several cases connected to corruption in the healthcare system.

If we look back at the cases connected to the purchase of operating tables, the investigations into the hospital waiting times, the bribing of doctors to purchase certain materials and medicine, the renovation of the plumbing system at the oncology institute, the fixing of public procurement contracts… Where did all these investigations stop? There have been no court convictions yet.

The Specialized Prosecutor's Office has so far issued five indictments against 38 defendants for corruption and economic offences. In one of the cases the indictment proposal is already final and waiting for the court proceedings to begin, while the other indictment proposals have not yet been made final. Another 12 pre-trial investigations are underway against 34 individuals.

The Specialized Prosecutor's Office assures that a priority has been given to cases connected to the healthcare system. The office also says that dealing with corruption in healthcare has shown that healthcare institutions don't regard themselves as the injured party. They generally don't investigate corruption practices and almost never launch any proceedings against the suspects. What's more – most of the suspects hold on to their positions, making it even more difficult to gather evidence. In any case corruption, in general, is difficult to prove as there is practically no documentary evidence. There are also no witnesses – in corruption all the involved parties have something to gain, and the budget is the only thing that suffers any damage. The prosecution office stresses that the Medical Chamber of Slovenia has also not launched any proceedings against doctors who have become suspects.

We're still waiting for the first court verdict.

Jolanda Lebar, Radio Slovenija; translated by K. J.
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