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Couchepin takes parting shot at hospitals

The outgoing Swiss interior minister with responsibility for health, Pascal Couchepin, has said Switzerland should close 200 of its 350 hospitals.

In an interview published ten days before his retirement at the end of October, Couchepin said there were too many hospitals in the country.

"But to close them calls for courage. All the politicians who have attempted to cut hospitals have not been re-elected," he told Bilan magazine, adding that the issue was complicated by the fact that each canton had authority over and interest in preserving its own hospitals.

Couchepin was echoing a point made by the head of the Federal Health Office earlier this month, albeit to a more dramatic degree.

Thomas Zeltner, due to retire at the end of 2009 after 19 years in the job, said in a television interview that Switzerland needed to close 100 of its 350 hospitals and that the remainder should specialise.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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