Ministry Seeks Autonomy for State Hospitals

The Ministry of Health is seeking a way for state-owned hospitals in Phnom Penh to become financially autonomous and hopefully provide better health care to patients without turning into privately owned facilities, Health Ministry Secretary of State Heng Taikry said Wednesday.

The ministry recently completed studies on the financial well-being of the interested hospitals and passed the information on to the Ministry of Finance for further review. How­ever, the government has no intention to create joint ventures between the hospitals and private companies.

“They are still non-profit hospitals,” Heng Taikry said. “They are just looking for income to cover their expenses,” he said.

Under the proposal, the health facilities would be allowed to charge patients a fee for extra services or amenities. The funds would then be returned to the hospitals instead of the government.

“They will not be privatized. They are public administration establishments,” he added. “But they will be developed and have much more freedom in their operations.”

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The hospitals expressing interest in the proposal are Preah Kos­sa­mak, Khmer-Soviet Friendship, Na­tional Pediatrics, and National Ma­ternal and Child Care Center, Heng Taikry said. If the hospital’s request succeeds, it would still need ap­proval by way of a sub-decree sign­ed by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Teng Soeun, director of Preah Kossamak Hospital, said the Mini­stry of Finance sent officials last year to study the possibility of his hospital taking part in the proposed autonomy program, with ministry officials last visiting the institution Tuesday.

He said that, if given the green light, the hospital would be more adept at improving the code of eth­ics among the medical staff and the ability to purchase new medical equip­ment thanks to the extra cash.

Employees, however, would still receive a government wage, he added.

Correction: The headline on Tuesday’s story “Law Students To Teach Convicts at University” (page 30) should have stated that the convicts will be taught in prison.

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