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Quality booster

Cabinet gives healthcare system a shot in the arm

By Urs Geiser

Interior Minister Berset (right) shows a checklist to be used in operating theatres to avoid medical errors (Keystone)

Interior Minister Berset (right) shows a checklist to be used in operating theatres to avoid medical errors


The government wants health care providers to work together to improve quality control, make treatments more efficient and boost patient security. They also unveiled plans to create a national centre as part of the Health 2020 strategy.

Presenting a draft bill, Interior Minister Alain Berset said Switzerland had a good health system.

“But there are also shortcomings and the quality of health care could be improved,” he told a news conference on Wednesday.

Berset, whose portfolio includes health matters, said that one in ten hospital patients end up suffering further problems during the course of their treatment, due to diagnostic mistakes, infections or being given the wrong drugs.

This leads to longer hospital stays and extra costs.

Trying to fend off criticism of a centralisation of the health sector, Berset stressed the planned centre had no executive powers.

The costs for the independent centre with about 30 employees is estimated at CHF22 million ($24.8 million).

It will involve closer cooperation with universities, colleges and other organisations already actively working on quality control.

Costs and criticism

Cantons, parties and institutions have three months to give their opinion on the plan, before it is put to parliament.

In a first reaction, hospitals and health insurance companies rejected the planned centre as superfluous.

The cabinet move comes a day after the Federal Health Office announced record health costs. Expenditure rose to CHF68 billion ($76.5 billion) in 2012.

Hospital spending saw an increase of nearly 10% over the previous year.

According to the World Health Organization, Switzerland is among the top six countries in the world, with 20% of government spending going on the health sector, as a percentage of total government expenditure.


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