Urgent appeal: financial distress of East Jerusalem Hospitals, 13 December 2012

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13 December 2012 Jerusalem – The East Jerusalem Hospitals (EJHs) began laying off staff and delaying non-urgent care in an effort to reduce costs and ameliorate an unprecedented financial crisis as a result of accrued debt from the Palestinian Authority (PA) for specialized patient care, totaling NIS 85.245 million as of November 30, 2012. The PA’s debt to the EJHs has persisted over the last year as donor support to the PA has decreased.

The East Jerusalem Hospitals Network(EJHN) includes six facilities --- Princess Basma Rehabilitation Center, Augusta Victoria Hospital, Maqassed Hospital, St. John Eye Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society Hospital --- which serve as the main centers 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 the EJHN facilities by the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH).

In 2011, over 22,000 West Bank and Gaza patients were referred by MoH to East Jerusalem, representing almost 40% of all MoH referrals, and more than half of the EJHN caseload.

The hospitals are struggling to fulfill obligations to suppliers and hospital staff and physician consultants. There is growing concern that the vital services provided by the hospitals could be jeopardized if financial assistance is not provided soon and the debt burden continues to rise. The Princess Basma Rehabilitation Center has implemented organizational changes that included the termination of eleven staff members. St. Joseph Hospital has found itself in debt with its obligations to suppliers totaling over NIS 3.5 million and to its physician consultants, approximately NIS 6.4 million. Augusta Victoria Hospital – holding the largest debt from the PA – is attempting to counterbalance the PA’s debt by delaying medical treatment of less urgent cases. Further, August Victoria Hospital is struggling to meet its commitments to suppliers and disburse December salaries to its staff.

The EJHN and its six facilities have been supported by the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for the last four years for quality improvement and institutional development. The achievements of this program will also 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 EJHs - and requesting that funds be donated directly to the PA to be used specifically for paying down their debts to the EJHs.

Contact: WHO –Ms. Aisha Mansour, 02-540-0595

EJHN Coordinator: Dr. Tawfiq Nasser, 02-627-9902

Related links

2nd Annual East Jerusalem Hospitals Conference "Striving for Excellence Under Crisis", 30 January 2013