Dear Jacek, could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Jacek Liput and I am Head of Public Procurement and PPP at Gawroński & Partners law firm (Poland). I have many years of experience in government contracting, including public procurement regulations and PPPs. I have been involved in a number of PPP projects, including private partner selection procedures, particularly in the infrastructure, the healthcare sector and the education sector.
What is the current situation with PPP projects in the healthcare sector in Poland?
Data published by the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy suggest that PPP projects in the Polish healthcare sector are still not very popular. Only 4 healthcare-related PPP contracts were concluded between 2009 and 2019, the total value of which is PLN 207 million (approx. EUR 46 million). These numbers are relatively low comparing to other sectors, such as transport, infrastructure, energy efficiency, sports and tourism and – only recently – waste management. Despite the above, I think that there is great potential for PPPs in the Polish healthcare sector. PPPs are increasingly seen to improve the healthcare system, in particular in terms of its performance, efficiency and quality. PPPs may also contribute to bringing new, advanced medical technologies into use. In my opinion a properly structured PPP project in the healthcare sector can be attractive for both the public party and the private partner.
What obstacles in your view blocks the implementation of PPP model in healthcare sector in Poland?
There are various legal and practical challenges for a successful PPP project and these equally apply to the healthcare sector. They relate, for instance, to appropriate allocation of risks between the public authority and the private partner, as well as ensuring stable and long-term financing for the project.
In terms of the Polish healthcare PPPs it is particularly important to take into account the existing legal framework for the financing of the healthcare services from public funds. As a rule, contracts with the Polish National Health Fund regarding such financing cannot be concluded for indefinite periods of time. Standard periods of the financing contracts are relatively short, while PPP contracts are normally concluded for longer periods, even as long as e.g. 30 years. This may cause risks for the private partner and these risks must be properly addressed at the selection phase.
Another challenge is that starting from the year 2021 we will have entirely new public procurement law in Poland. Polish public procurement law has recently been entirely redrafted to focus on efficiency of public-private cooperation rather than formalities. However, both contracting authorities and private partners will have to adapt to the new reality. A significant number of private partners are selected in public procurement procedures, so I am pretty sure that this change will have significant impact for the PPP market.
What is the best-known example of healthcare PPP projects in Poland?
A landmark example of the Polish PPPs and actually the first large-scale multimillion PPP in the sector is the Hospital in Żywiec project. The contract award procedure in this project ended in 2011 with the selection of InterHealth Canada as the private partner. The private partner was mandated to build an entirely new hospital and manage it for the period of 30 years, including the provision of healthcare services. I have been involved in this project at the time of my engagement with my previous law firm, advising financing banks inter alia on the PPP regulations and their practical implications.
The hospital in Żywiec has recently been opened to public, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The success of this project will hopefully attract more interest in the PPPs in the sector and translate into a steadily growing number of PPP contracts in the years to come.
What is in your view the added-value of PPPHealth4All and how it could help in preparation of sustainable healthcare PPPs?
PPPHealth4All can certainly be helpful for all stakeholders on the PPP market by providing access to best practices, peer-to-peer support and specialized training. All these are very valuable, as know-how and experience are crucial for a PPP project to be successful.
Interview by Natalia Korchakova-Heeb