Cross-border Health Care Lower Austria - South Bohemia healthacross

Project Themes

Cross-border co-operation

In order to permit the optimum utilisation of health care services by all the people living in the border region of Lower Austria and South Bohemia, the healthacross project is implemented. It is the first large-scale project on cross-border co-operation in health care between an old and a new EU Member State and, hence, also a model project for other border regions.
“Cross-border health care” and co-operation in the health sector involve numerous aspects.  These range from legal and customs-related issues, for example, in the cross-border provision of emergency care (because ambulances cross the border) and questions related to the payment of services rendered (cost differentials) to the joint development of regional long-term structural plans for health care (to raise efficiency and save costs). In the EU context, a particularly urgent issue is the funding of health care services by Member States with significant wage gaps and cost differentials. Within the framework of healthacross, solutions will be proposed for all these issues: by working groups on specific topics, by collecting and analysing data, by involving experts, by evaluating the experiences and approaches to solutions developed by similar co-operation projects in the European Union.

Background

Since 1999, a great variety of local co-operation initiatives have been launched in the border region of South Bohemia and Waldviertel.
In 1999, the image of Gmünd Hospital was analysed in co-operation with the Secondary Commercial College of Gmünd (that had a Czech class). At that time, Gmünd Hospital was particularly interested in finding out whether its maternity ward would also be appreciated and used by Czech nationals. This survey gave rise to a citizens’ initiative that prompted the mayor of České Velenice to take action. He commissioned a feasibility study on the utilisation of Gmünd Hospital (including a survey of 700 households with 305 completed questionnaires received and a total of 1,016 adult residents). The final report became available in 2003.  The result: The acceptance of cross-border emergency health care is very high. However, the citizens are not ready to make an extra contribution to cover its costs. The question on the languages spoken by the citizens showed that 67% of the respondents speak German.

Changed framework

With the accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union in 2004, the situation radically changed at the borders between the old and new Member States: as a result, co-operation projects have not only become possible, but are even supported by the European Union. The recent take-over of all hospitals in Lower Austria by the Land of Lower Austria under the umbrella of the Niederösterreichische Landeskliniken-Holding also significantly facilitates the planned co-operation project.