€3bn savings plan for French hospitals

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FRANCE’S government has given further details of a €3billion money-saving plan for the country’s hospitals, which could see up to 22,000 jobs not be replaced on retirement, and more done to reduce overnight stays for patients.

Health minister Marisol Touraine says €860million can be saved in staff costs between now and 2017 – the equivalent of 2% of the total hospital workforce. The government also believes that €1.2billion can be saved by seeking better deals from suppliers. Hospitals will be encouraged to join forces and group-buy their supplies to achieve a better price.

More will also be done to develop day surgery, with fewer patients having to spend a night on the ward after minor operations, potentially saving €600million. The plans are part of a bigger project to make €10billion in savings from France’s healthcare budget.

Ms Touraine told reporters that the changes did not necessarily amount to budget cuts, but limits to future growth in health spending. It is widely expected that French healthcare spending will have to increase to deal with an ageing population. The government wants to cap that rise at 2.1% this year.