Lebanon News

Health Ministry: Hospitals are not refusing patients

Lebanese soldiers stand guard in front of Rafik Hariri Hospital in Beirut, Sunday, June 9, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: The Health Ministry and the Syndicate of Hospitals have denied that hospitals would refrain from receiving patients in protest of the state’s failure to pay its outstanding debt, saying a recent reported statement was not issued on behalf of the syndicate.

“The statement that was issued two days ago and threatened not to receive patients, was bogus and was not issued by the Syndicate of Hospitals,” Health Minister Wael Abu Faour told reporters after meeting with the syndicate's president, Sleiman Haroun.

“The hospital or two that wrote this statement can, if they want, cancel their contracts with the state,” Abu Faour added. “I dare them to try not to receive patients, I am ready to cancel their contracts and we will see if they could go on.”

On Sunday, the National News Agency posted a statement attributed to the Syndicate of Hospitals threatening to turn away patients on welfare unless the government began paying down the more than $113 million it owed them.

The statement said that hospitals were unable to provide medical services in light of the state's delay in paying financial dues and demanded an increase in the payments.

Haroun also spoke after the meeting, saying the syndicate did not issue the statement and the numbers mentioned were inaccurate.

“We have an understanding with the Health Ministry, and hospitals would not take any measure that would affect the patient over financial reasons,” he said.

The Health Ministry has said it would pay the $80 million in overdue payments to hospitals. Haroun said that the debt was incurred between 2000 and 2012 as a result of emergency treatments that the hospitals provided above the legally required ceiling.





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