Hospital privatization making headway

Al-Rabiah issues order to form health complex in Makkah

January 17, 2018
Saudi Gazette

By Hussain Hazzazi

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — The privatization of government hospitals is progressing well as the Health Ministry has taken steps to establish a holding company and five health companies covering all of the Kingdom's regions.

Informed sources said the new system, to be introduced first in the Eastern Province, followed by Riyadh and Makkah regions, would boost healthcare services in the country.

Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah issued an order to form the first health complex in Makkah with four hospitals and 11 health centers under the supervision of a consultative council at King Abdullah Medical City in Makkah.

The minister approved the consultative council at King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Dammam for the health complex in the Eastern Province with five hospitals and 19 health centers. It has divided public health facilities in the Riyadh region into first and second health complexes.

Dr. Khaled Al-Shibani, head of the office for vision realization and deputy minister for planning, said the ministry's national transformation program is a road map to improve the quality of healthcare services in the Kingdom, create more jobs for Saudis and realize the goal of healthcare for all citizens.

The efficiency of hospitals under the new healthcare companies will be increased by 25 percent by 2021, and 37 percent of hospitals and primary health centers will be brought under the companies by 2020. Each health complex will have a consultative council to supervise its affairs.

"The ministry will stop operation of its health facilities including hospitals and will award only temporary contracts to run them," the source said.

It will review risks and preventive healthcare measures for 90 days and end calling tenders and awarding contracts by next year.

Employment from the Civil Service Ministry and self-employment as well as training and transport will be frozen until the complexes become ready for independent operation.

Hospitals will be given choice to either absorb employees from the Civil Service Ministry or make self-employment. A national purchase company will be established to ensure adequate supply of medicines and medical appliances to hospitals and health centers.

The consultative council in coordination with the vision realization office at the ministry will review the work plan for its successful operation.

"Every health complex will be provided with an additional budget of 10 percent, which will be taken from the budget allocated for medicines, medical appliances and other consumer goods," the source told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.

The complex's reserve budget will be utilized for office requirements, logistics, training and information technology and obtaining healthcare services from the private sector as well as for paying salaries and remunerations of the board of directors and executives.

The ministry's privatization program comes as part of the 2020 National Transformation Program, which aims at improving efficiency of public hospitals by operating them on a commercial basis with the support of specialized health companies.

"The companies will focus on quality and compete with one another to provide the best possible services to all groups of residents," the source said, adding that the ministry's role would be limited to supervision, organization and improving productivity.

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