Bulgaria launches probe into “hospital within the hospital” schemes

Bulgaria launches probe into “hospital within the hospital” schemes
By bne IntelliNews March 18, 2018

The Bulgarian prosecution is launching an investigation into seven state-owned hospitals over alleged mismanagement that has caused significant financial damages, Mediapool reported on March 16, quoting Rumiana Arnaudova, spokeswoman for chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov.

All of the probes concern suspicions an illegal “hospital within the hospital” scheme was launched. Under such schemes, which were revealed last year to be common in Bulgaria, hospital managements have signed illegal contracts with private hospitals to provide almost rent-free space and equipment.

Among Sofia’s recent efforts is a mass investigation into state-owned hospitals where the management allegedly abused their positions and caused significant financial losses. In January, Mihail Zortev, former deputy health minister, was accused of abuse of office, as he allegedly caused financial damage of around BGN12.88mn (€6.6mn) to a local hospital.

The prosecution initiated an operation named “hospital within the hospital” in December. Now prosecutors will investigate six hospitals across the country and Bulgaria’s largest emergency hospital in Sofia.

According to the findings, abuse of office under this scheme began back in 2010, when hospital managements signed the contracts with private hospitals. 

“In one hospital exists a mega hospital that is private and is [used to] drain the state-owned hospital,” Mediapool quoted Arnaudova as saying at a press conference.

Each of the seven hospitals will be investigated for the period since 2010, when the co-existence of a state-owned and a private hospital in the same building was banned.

Bulgaria is desperately trying to lose its image of a country where top-level corruption is tolerated. In the past few months, the government has adopted a controversial set of legislation changes and an anti-corruption law, while the prosecution and courts are very busy charging or sentencing former state officials.

 

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