From: Exit News
Albanian Doctors Protest Arrests over Bribery, Demand Financial Autonomy 

On Thursday, the medical staff of the University Trauma Hospital in Tirana protested the arrests of two doctors and a nurse in Shkoder over bribery charges this week. They called on the government to solve corruption issues in the health sector by giving hospitals the financial autonomy they have been promised.

The arrests related to the medical treatment of those wounded in an armed conflict that left 4 dead two weeks ago. The event was followed by public outcry and discontent with police failure to prevent crimes.

Protesting doctors read a statement by the Union of Health Service Workers that questioned the legality of the arrests, claiming that there was no sign that their colleagues presented a flight risk. 

They demanded legal changes to prohibit arrests of medical staff unless they are found guilty by a court, and vowed to continue their protest daily.

One of the doctors who spoke to News24 echoed Prime Minister Edi Rama’s assessment that it’s not the people who corrupt a system, but it’s the system that corrupts them. He called on Rama to speed up his promised reform of the health system by giving hospitals financial autonomy.

Prime Minister Edi Rama announced a “deep reform” in the police following the killing of 4 people in Shkoder. It resulted in district police chiefs being reshuffled across the country last week.

In addition, police arrested 3 medical staff who treated the wounded in the conflict over bribery charges.

In April, Rama promised to reform the public health sector after the Turkish model of financial autonomy. The government expects such reform to reduce bribery in the sector due to higher salaries resulting from the improvement of the financial management of public hospitals.

Plans for the reform were voiced by Rama when he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inaugurated a Turkish-Albanian hospital hastily built by Turkey to coincide with the April 2021 general elections in Albania.