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The government allocated 8 million euros to support health care professionals

19. November 2020 - 0:00

Stenbock House, 19 November 2020 – At today’s meeting, the government decided to allocate 8 million euros from the reserve to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund to ensure the provision and re-organisation of health care services under COVID-19 conditions.

According to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, it is crucial that everyone is guaranteed medical care in the fight against COVID-19. “In order to combat the spread of the coronavirus, it is important to ensure access to the right health care services for everyone in need,” he emphasised. “Today’s government decision to allocate an additional 8 million euros to the Health Insurance Fund will help maintain access to health care.”

Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik also spoke about the importance of additional funds for health care. “The sharp increase in the number of those infected has led to the need to re-organise the work of nurses, ambulances, family physicians, and specialists. We are directing additional money to health care so that the necessary medical care would be provided to the people of Estonia,” he said. “The extra money allows for the remuneration of additional working hours of health care professionals and the re-organisation of the work of medical institutions. It also makes it possible to cover additional costs in situations where it is necessary to find replacement staff in medical institutions where health care professionals are ill.”

For family physicians, the additional money allows to finance additional labour both in family health centres and with patient lists if the family physician or nurse has fallen ill or has been sent to isolation and replacement is not possible within the limits of their practice. It will also help to cover the costs of admitting non-listed patients and those without a family physician and increase the capacity of the Family Doctor’s Advice Line in referring patients for testing. In nursing homes, the additional money will allow for the increase of nursing care if necessary.

In specialist care, the need to reimburse salaries in COVID-19 infection departments, level III intensive care units, and emergency medicine departments has been taken into account as additional costs. Higher fees can also be paid to ambulance workers with the additional money, if necessary.

Of the 8 million euros allocated to the Estonian Health Insurance Fund, 6.9 million euros is for specialist and emergency medical care, 0.9 million euros for family physicians, and 0.2 million euros for nursing care.

In addition, the government decided last week to allocate 4.8 million euros to the Health Board for coronavirus testing, of which 2.5 million euros is to cover the higher-than-expected cost of PCR tests and 2.3 million euros to purchase antigen tests. The aim of testing is to detect those infected with the coronavirus as early as possible and to isolate the foci of infection to prevent the virus from spreading.

The additional money allocated to the Health Board makes it possible to continue the large-scale and regionally available testing – to test all people with symptoms of illness, to enable testing for those returning from abroad to work, and, if necessary, carry out large-scale tests. Antigen tests make it possible to identify potential infections more quickly in various institutions and groups where all-out testing is required, such as nursing homes, schools, etc.