Health minister Edith Schippers will tomorrow submit draft legislation to parliament allowing hospitals to pay dividends to private sector investors, the NRC reported on Wednesday.
At the moment, hospitals are not allowed to pay dividends, but the minister hopes the change will make it possible for hospitals to attract outside investment such as from pension funds, the paper says.
The eight university teaching hospitals will not be allowed to pay profits to investors. In addition, in order to discourage private equity firms targeting short-term gains, investors will only qualify for dividend payments after three years.
The paper says the move is the latest step in the liberalisation of the hospital sector. The Netherlands has some 90 hospitals and 270 independent clinics.
Investors will also be given a say in the hospital policy, the minister is quoted as saying. ‘Doctors will remain the boss in their surgeries, but investors will look critically at the company’s efficiency,’ she said. ‘Is the work done efficiently? If not, they won’t invest.’
It could be that investors demand a hospital stop carrying out certain treatments because they are not done well, the minister admitted. ‘That is not a problem because other hospitals will carry out the same treatment better and more efficiently,’ Schippers told the paper.