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Hospitals 'bribing' doctors for patients

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Hospitals 'bribing' doctors for patients
Photo: DPA
17:13 CEST+02:00
Doctors and hospitals are blaming each other this week after it emerged that medical facilities have been secretly paying premiums to doctors for sending them patients.

Vice President of the German Medical Association (BÄK), Frank Ulrich Montgromery, said hospitals were responsible for the practise.

“One could call it bribery,” he told the German daily Die Welt on Wednesday.

Meanwhile the German hospital association (DKG) and the German hospice foundation rejected responsibility for the controversial payments, asking Health Minister Ulla Schmidt to step in.

The BÄK confirmed the existence of the practise on Tuesday, citing two Hamburg clinics that were known for paying doctors €100 per patient checked into their facilities over the last several years. They managed to disguise the scam by saying the doctors were being rewarded for filling out questionnaires on the hospital's behalf.

The BÄK estimated that between 70 and 80 percent of patients transferred to the facilities were acceptable. But the rest are in a legal “grey area,” Montgomery told the paper, adding that it was “nonsense” to say that doctors blackmailed the hospitals.

President of the DVG German hospital association Rudolf Kösters said the two sides need to work together in the future. “It is primarily the doctors who organize and come to clinics with demands,” he said, adding that hospitals had no means of sanctioning these requests.

Health Minister Ulla Schmidt reacted to the practise with outrage.

“These practices must be stopped as quickly as possible,” she said on Tuesday, calling it “cronyism.”

“To me, that's fraud,” she said.

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