When it comes to speaking about the malfunctioning health system, the first thought falls immediately on surgery that ends up in a tragedy rather than a stretcher abbandoned in some hospital hall with a patient ‘on board’ or even a clamp forgotten in the stomach of some patient or other. But there is another variation to the concept, which is rather less dramatic under the media profile, but nonethless devastating in terms of public performance: on the one hand, the rivers of money handed out with reimboursements-at times, provoked by the insane will of the ruling class to favour ‘friends’ in some known clinic of theirs, the other, the carefree management carried out by the healthcare facilities themselves.
The Court of Auditors has strongly come out against this wasteful public money spending, which not necessarily can be pinned down as a “scam” in terms of the penal code. However, it has undoubtedly drained the public money causing indignation all the same. This is the case with the sentence 185/2015 ruled out this month by the Court of Lazio which concerns a ‘trick’ that a private Surgical Centre in Civitavecchia had come up with, whereby patients were operated immediately discharged, and that in a few years earned them undue profits- profits that all came from the National Health Service funds, in short paid with the public’s money – estimating over 2 million and 630 thousand Euros. The mechanism was quite simple: health services, that were not legible for refunding were carried out, then refunds for the same service would be unlawfully requested disguised under a different typology name. In fact, the local Health facilities were unaware they were paying out money for certain types of services which in reality had never been carried out. And that’s it! Just a plain sheet of paper and that’s all.
The matter did not escape the notice of the Financial Police Inspectors who handed everything over to the accounting judges; who, owing to a number of inconsistencies had already gone into prescription, resulting in the owner of the clinic being condemned but got away with the payment of “only” 358.702 Euros.
The Civitavecchia case is but one of the latest cases of a widespread malpractice, which has seen the health sector in the midst of a strom of controversy. Yet another case, that has taken place these days is the alleged fraud at Ssn concocted between the years 2007 and 2009 relating to illegitimate refunding, obtained following a long series of orthodontic services disguised as orthopedic operations at the Israeli Hospital in Rome. The Health Police inspectors had already filed the confiscation of assets and property owned by the health facility estimated to be worth over 8,5 million Euros. The go-ahead could come on 15th April, the day fixed for the hearing to assess the measure. On 7th October, the case should be presented to the magistrates, where an assessment will be made on the case.
And yet another case discovered by the Financial Police Inspectors pertaining to the tax-police in Cosenza, where 518 subjects were found to have enjoyed “attendance allowances” from 2010 up to 2014, who had been admitted either to public or private for periods exceeding 30 days, putting the expenses on the charge of the tax-payer. To put it quite frnakly, the state was paying the expenses, and in addition to this, the beneficiaries, were putting the money from the allowances into their pockets. But ‘punks’ are also to be found outside hospital circles. A couple of 60 year old pharmicists in Padua, who, after stealing a doctor’s stamp and prescription book, faked the prescriptions putting the names of unknown patients or patients known to be dead. The estimate of the damage on public money? Half a million Euros.
The National Health Service resembles a well where anyone could try to drink from: from hospital entrepreneurs to the same patients and pharmacists. A slap in the face to ethics not only medical but also business. And to think that it should be one of the most protected sectors, first and fore most by the con science than by law. If this is still the Italy of today, why then be surprised of hearing about bribes, privileges or corrupt politics?
Translation provided by Marina Stronati