Jerusalem, 25 March 2013 – The East Jerusalem hospitals are facing major cash flow problems as a result of accrued debt from the Palestinian Authority (PA) for specialized patient care, totaling NIS 111.718 million as of 28 February 2013. The PA’s debt to the East Jerusalem hospitals has persisted over the last year as donor support to the PA has decreased. The debt has resulted in major delays in staff compensation and supplier remuneration.
The East Jerusalem Hospitals Network (EJHN) includes six facilities: Princess Basma Rehabilitation Centre, Augusta Victoria Hospital, Maqassed Hospital, St. John Eye Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society Hospital. These serve as the main centres for specialized care within the Palestinian health system. Patients needing services and procedures that are not available in the West Bank and Gaza are referred for treatment in EJHN facilities by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
In 2012, a total of 25 381 West Bank and Gaza patients were referred by the Ministry of Health to East Jerusalem, representing over 45% of all Ministry of Health referrals, and more than half of the EJHN case-load.
The PA debt includes the Ministry of Health debt totaling NIS 98.8 million and the Medical Military Services debt totaling NIS 12.9 million. This rising debt has caused major cash flow problems for the East Jerusalem hospitals, which has negative implications for patient care as facilities struggle to procure necessary medications. Staff salaries are consistently paid late and basic supplies for quality clinical care are lacking. Several of the facilities have been forced to take credit lines at local banks in order to sustain hospital operations, while other facilities have already reduced staff and risk closing down entire departments due to the increasing financial deficit. The East Jerusalem hospitals are preparing contingency plans that include service and/or staff reductions, anticipating that the debt will continue to rise in the coming months.
The EJHN and its six facilities has been supported by the European Union and WHO for the last four years for quality improvement and institutional development. The achievements of this programme will be threatened if the financial crisis continues.
The EJHN is seeking urgent financial assistance to sustain the services of the six hospitals. It is calling on donors to support the PA to meet its obligation towards the East Jerusalem hospitals and requests that funds be donated directly to the PA to be used specifically for paying their debts to the hospitals.
WHO: Ms. Aisha Mansour, 02-540-0595
EJHN Coordinator: Dr Tawfiq Nasser, 02-627-9902