Four employees in Cosenza, a city in southern Italy, were suspected of having caused 4.7 million euros (5.3 million U.S. dollars) in damages for not collecting payments from patients in the city’s emergency rooms.
Local finance police uncovered that in 150,000 cases no payment was collected between 2011 and 2014 from patients triaged as low-urgency visits, who should have been asked to pay between 25 and 45 euros.
Another similar scandal was reported last week, when an operation conducted by finance police in Naples, another city of southern Italy, found that regional public health officials illicitly spent as much as around 16 million euros in taxpayer money.
“Our investigation was aroused by the complaints of some citizens who denounced big waste of public money in the health sector in articles published by the local press,” Luca Gelormino, a captain of the Naples finance police, told Xinhua on Monday.
“So we started a year-long operation in November 2014 and found out that regional health officials had appointed a number of unnecessary head and deputy head physicians in public hospitals across Campania region,” he said.
The appointments, Gelormino explained to Xinhua, were at odds with the government-imposed guidelines under a spending review aimed at reducing waste in public finances.
“We found 523 head physicians and 1,915 hospital managers in excess. Each of them was receiving very high monthly benefits, although some were heading wards which counted one or even zero beds instead of at least 17 beds required by law,” he highlighted.
According to latest available data released by the Court of Auditors, a national financial watchdog, Italy’s health service recorded an 836-million-euro deficit in 2014, down by some 50 percent compared to 2013. (1 euro = 1.1 U.S. dollars) Enditem