One in five people in parts of EU paid bribes for healthcare during pandemic - survey

15 June 2021, 19:58 | Updated: 15 June 2021, 23:18

A man receives a coronavirus vaccine in Hungary
A man receives a coronavirus vaccine in Hungary. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

One in five people in parts of the EU paid bribes to access healthcare during the coronavirus pandemic, a survey has found.

Almost a third of people across the bloc used personal connections to access healthcare during the Covid-19 outbreak, the report by Transparency International also said.

Some 40,000 people from all 27 nations took part in the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) - European Union survey between October and December last year.

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The report said six per cent of people paid a bribe for healthcare but around one in five people in Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Hungary admitted to it.

Meanwhile, 29 per cent of people who took part said they relied on personal connections to get medical care, with that behaviour most common in the Czech Republic, Portugal and Hungary.

Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International, said “The EU is often seen as a bastion of integrity, but these findings show that countries across the region remain vulnerable to the insidious effects of corruption.

“During a health crisis, using personal connections to access public services can be as damaging as paying bribes. Lives can be lost when connected people get a Covid-19 vaccine or medical treatment before those with more urgent needs.

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“It’s crucial that governments across the EU redouble their efforts to ensure a fair and equitable recovery from the ongoing pandemic.”

The authors of the survey said the findings were of particular concern since countries across the EU are preparing to allocate billions of euros for post-pandemic recovery.

More than half of respondents also said they did not think their government has handled the pandemic in a transparent manner, with people in France, Poland and Spain particuarly critical.

Almost a third of people told the survey they thought corruption is getting worse in their country, while almost half said their government is doing a bad job at tackling corruption.