State-funded healthcare services to be expanded from next year

  • 2023-12-19
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The range of state-funded healthcare services is to be expanded from next year, according to an ordinance drafted by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and approved by the Government on Tuesday.

Currently, people with oncological diseases may have reduced fertility after receiving chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs affect sperm and eggs, so their development, maturation and full functioning may be impaired later. It is therefore envisaged that from 2024 oncology patients in Latvia - both adults and children - will be able to preserve their reproductive material before starting chemotherapy.

At present, the plan is to pay for the service before the start of chemotherapy if a medical consensus has decided that the service is necessary. Storage of gametes is currently planned for a maximum of 10 years from the time of freezing.

The MoH also intends to include dental services and spectacles (both lenses and frames) in the range of state-funded healthcare services for patients receiving long-term psychiatric treatment in an in-patient facility. The MoH explains that patients with chronic mental health disorders have limited access to dental services during long-term stays in psychiatric institutions. As a result, basic human needs such as food intake are impaired due to oral health problems. In turn, without vision correction, patients' ability to carry out daily activities is impaired and their compliance with the treatment process is reduced.

From next year, it is also planned to extend the range of state-funded healthcare services to include a mobile team palliative care service at the patient's home, as well as to promote timely access to secondary outpatient healthcare services for pregnant and postnatal women for up to 70 days.

The MoH notes that the health care of pregnant women is a priority, but in practice there are often situations where pregnant women with chronic conditions do not receive timely specialist advice or examinations. Therefore, it is envisaged to include pregnant women and women up to 70 days postnatal in the circle of patients for whom secondary outpatient healthcare services should be provided within 10 working days from the date of referral to a medical institution.

This will apply to patients whose sudden illness or exacerbation of a chronic disease may endanger their health or the course of their pregnancy, and the services provided will be reimbursed above the quota. This will allow pregnant women and post-natal women up to 70 days with certain diagnoses in specific situations to receive the necessary healthcare services more quickly than before, and medical institutions will have an incentive to care for these patients.

It is also planned to provide for an increase in the salaries of medics from January 1, 2024. Accordingly, the average monthly salary for doctors and specialists will be EUR 2,304, for health and patient care assistants EUR 1,388, and for health and patient care support staff EUR 925.

The MoH also intends to continue to provide state-funded medical transport until the end of 2024 to provide the Ukrainian population with the healthcare services they need in hospital due to the armed conflict in Russia. The Ministry underlines that the hostilities in Ukraine are still ongoing and the number of wounded is increasing daily, which is why it is necessary to continue the measures. These measures were introduced in 2022 and so far more than 100 persons have been medically transported from a Ukrainian medical institution to a Latvian hospital, providing the opportunity for war victims to receive the necessary treatment, including medical rehabilitation, in Latvian hospitals and medical care institutions.

In addition, until the end of next year, it is planned to continue to provide laboratory testing for Covid-19 in accordance with the Covid-19 testing algorithm published on the website of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control. The MoH explains that the implementation of this measure is linked to epidemiological safety concerns.

It is also planned to improve the availability of state funded insulin pumps for patients with diabetes up to the age of 24. Specifically, the National Health Service will pay for disposable insulin pump accessories for existing patients, insulin pumps for new patients, disposable insulin pump accessories for new patients and the purchase of new insulin pumps to replace defective insulin pumps for persons up to 24 years of age.