By Paweł Hincz, Legal Counsel and Juliusz Krzyżanowski, Lawyer, WKB Wierciński, Kwieciński, Baehr
On June 25, 2015, a Polish delegation led by the Minister of Health, Marian Zembala, participated in a meeting at the European Commission to discuss the Ministry’s “Policy Paper for Health Care 2014-2020.” The policy paper is the most important document concerning the strategy for disbursement of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) in the Polish health care system.
The Minister negotiated several conditions (ex-ante) that are essential for the immediate launch of investments in the Polish health care system that are to be co-financed by EU structural funds. The estimated value of indispensable investments is PLN 12 billion, constituting almost 20 percent of the annual expenses of the National Health Fund (NFZ).
The core objective of the meeting was to agree to conditions for efficient commencement of projects aimed at: the development of preventive medicine, medical personnel education, the creation and development of medical simulation centers within medical universities, care quality improvement for elderly people, the implementation of solutions for improving the Polish health care system and infrastructure development for medical service providers.
The EU structural funds are expected to help make the Polish health care system more efficient, modern and innovative, resulting in a significant improvement in patient care quality. The Ministry of Health anticipates that the “health-needs maps” program, under which it is currently preparing geographical priorities for allocation, will enable EU funds to be distributed so as to reduce inequalities in health care availability across Poland.
The co-funding for the Polish health care system will come from both Polish central operational programs – the “Knowledge, Education and Development Operational Program” and the “Infrastructure and Environment Operational Program” and regional operational programs.
The Ministry of Health expects the first calls for proposals for the EU funds to be launched in Q3 2015, and that these will relate to day nursing homes and medical simulation centers. In terms of administration within Poland, the “Steering Committee for ESIF intervention in the health care sector” will undertake the most significant work going forward, i.e. recommendations for criteria of project selection and “green lights” to non-competitive projects. The Steering Committee, imposed on Poland by the European Commission, shall be appointed by the Minister of Infrastructure and Development soon and led by the Minister of Health. An important role with respect to implementation of the Steering Committee’s recommendations will be played by Polish monitoring committees for each operational program, as well as institutions managing and implementing them at a central and regional level.