- The Crisis, Hospitals and Healthcare (2011)

Main findings

The effect of the crisis on hospitals and healthcare varies across Europe depending on the general impact of the economic downturn in a given country and the measures taken as a result. A number of European countries have adopted measures to increase public investment in health and undergo reforms to support citizens during these turbulent times. For instance, in Austria and Cyprus there have been recent VAT cuts on medication and pharmaceutical products; in Germany, healthcare tax deductions and reduced contributions rate to healthcare insurance have been implemented; and in Sweden, additional resources to key welfare services including health care have been granted.

Yet, this is not always the case. In several EU countries, government budget cutbacks coupled with structural health and social insurance reforms have had numerous repercussions affecting healthcare services, health professionals and patients across Europe. In Latvia, a dramatic decrease in health expenditure is badly hitting hospital care and other health budget cuts. Patients already affected by the reduction in services and the out-of-pocket payments incurred have seen a considerable decrease in the access and affordability of care. Moreover, in Romania, additional fees for medical services and patients’ out-of-pocket payments for treatment, hospitalisations and pharmaceuticals have gone up.

In a number of countries such as Cyprus, there have been recent health-professional recruitment freezes. In addition, in countries like Latvia, medical wages have undergone massive cuts. In Romania, salaries were reduced by 25 percent in 2010, leading to an increase in the ’brain drain’ effect - large numbers of health professionals leaving the country to seek better working conditions elsewhere.

EPHA Related articles

- A worsening of social inequalities in the European Union

- How can social protection respond to the financial crisis?

- European Parliament condemns austerity policies and call for more social inclusion

- The Impact of the crisis on nurses and nursing: new evidence from EFN

EPHA is organising its Annual Conference on the impact of the crisis on health systems and public health on June 6th at the European Economic and Social Committee. You can register here

Last modified on May 2 2012.