Cross-border Health Care Lower Austria - South Bohemia healthacross

Starting Point

Current trends

International policies, the case law of the European Court of Justice, cost pressures and cost awareness among funding bodies and patients contribute to the rising importance of cross-border co-operation in the health care sector.
All over the European Union, hospital funding requires a re-orientation and re-structuring of the system so that cross-border hospital co-operation enters the scene as a possible, efficient solution: after all, cross-border health care can help eliminate national deficiencies and achieve improved care for the population as well as cost savings through the optimum utilisation of resources. The main focus will be placed on responding to the needs of the local residents and on ensuring fast access to high-quality care close to the patients’ home — which will be of special importance particularly in emergencies or in the case of chronic diseases. Experiences made in project initiatives in Europe show that differing national legislation may well give rise to problematic aspects in the course of such cross-border projects. Therefore, sound planning foundations and rules laid down in bilateral agreements are required to ensure that cross-border co-operation will be successful.

Lower Austria – South Bohemia

Hospital Gmünd
Hospital Gmünd

In the border region, the “divided” city of Gmünd / České Velenice illustrates the need for co-operation in a particularly marked way: On the Czech side, the provision of care — especially emergency care — is problematic, to say the least, in the area close to the border. The next ambulance with a duty doctor is stationed at a distance of 35 km in Třeboň, the closest hospital is located at a distance of 60 km in České Budějovice – which may result in considerable delays in the provision of medical care to patients. In contrast, the hospital Landesklinikum Waldviertel-Gmünd (LK Gmünd) is only situated a few hundred metres from the border.
For Austrian patients, too, the possibility to use health care services on the other side of the border is of great interest. Jindřichův Hradec, for example, has a modern dialysis unit that can be easily reached by patients from the Gmünd region. In addition, there are comprehensive services in the field of rehabilitation Hospital Gmünd in the Czech Republic that could be used by patients from Lower Austria.
Therefore, cross-border patient care and exchanges of services would be of great advantage for both partners. 

Regional specifics

Co-operation in health care, which already has a long tradition in other European regions (e.g. in Euregios), has hardly been launched in Central Europe. This is mainly caused by the significant wage gaps and cost differentials, which also exist between Austria and the Czech Republic. As a result, citizens of the new EU Member States hardly can afford in-patient care in Austria or countries with comparable price levels. These specific regional characteristics constitute serious obstacles to cross-border co-operation projects. Especially in the EU context, it is of highest relevance to implement pilot projects in Central Europe because the fundamental freedoms of the free movement of services and persons need to be ensured for the citizens of all EU Member States to the same extent.