Corruption in the Healthcare Sector

The health sector is one of the areas that is particularly vulnerable to corruption, but relatively little is known about this subject. In this context, the Commission (Directorate-General Migration and Home Affairs – DG Home) commissioned Ecorys to conduct an initial study on corruption in the healthcare sector (henceforth: SCH1) in 2012. The objectives of the SCH1 were to develop a better understanding of the extent, nature, and impact of corrupt practices in the healthcare sector across the EU, and to assess the capacity of the Member States to prevent and control corruption within the healthcare system and the effectiveness of such measures in practice.

The study identified six typologies of corruption:

  • bribery in medical service delivery;
  • procurement corruption;
  • improper marketing relations;
  • misuse of (high) level positions;
  • undue reimbursement claims;
  • fraud and embezzlement of medicines and medical devices.

In 2016, the Commission requested an update (henceforth: SCH2) of the initial study. The purpose of the update study on corruption in the healthcare sector (SCH2) is two-fold:

  • to analyse and report on relevant developments since the publication of SCH1
  • to provide an in-depth analysis of selected issues: privileged access to medical services, improper marketing, and potential risks involving double practice.

The study covered all EU-28 Member States, with specific attention focused on: Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. The analysis is based on desk research, an online survey sent to stakeholders across the EU, thematic interviews with various organisations in the field of (EU) healthcare, and fact-finding missions, providing more detailed analysis and examples with regard to the six selected countries.

The study concluded that:

  • Bribery in medical service delivery remains one of the main challenges, especially in many Eastern and Southern European Member States.
  • Corruption related to granting privileged access to healthcare or potential risks involving double practice are not isolated to Member States with a high perception of corruption (in healthcare).
  • Transparent procedures are key in addressing corruption in procurement processes.
  • Attempts to address improper marketing increase at both EU and national level.

Source: Updated Study on Corruption in the Healthcare Sector – Final Report (© European Union, 2017)

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