Public health services on the brink, report says

10 August 2016
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The National Health Service (ESY) is on the brink of collapse after six years of underfunding and a freeze on hirings as a result of Greece’s protracted financial crisis, according to a damning report issued on Tuesday by the Panhellenic Federation of Employees at Public Hospitals (POEDIN) which blames the Health Ministry and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“Hospitals, medical centers, EKAV [ambulance services] are in a state of dissolution,” POEDIN said in a statement, adding that the premier and Health Ministry officials will “soon have to answer for the destruction of ESY.”

Painting a dire picture, the report notes a fundamental lack of medical equipment (even ambulance stretchers), the shutdown of intensive care units and operating theaters, as well as shortages in doctors and staff at medical units across the country.

The situation at the Geniko Kratiko Athinon Gennimatas Hospital is particularly acute as 40 percent of positions across all its medical departments are vacant, while different departments have been merged to allow overworked staff to take a five-day summer vacation.

According to POEDIN, one of the two CT scanners at the hospital is often out of order for long periods of time, while its two x-ray machines don’t work, forcing patients and doctors to pay to use others at private clinics and hospitals.

The report also warns that the Erythros Stavros Hospital in Athens will be forced to shut down if orthopedic doctors are not hired soon, as most are now about to retire, while 70 percent of administrative positions are vacant.

The same problems, the report claims, are also impacting other major hospitals in the capital, including the Ippokrateio, the Alexandra and the Thriasio, as well as the Papageorgiou in Thessaloniki and other major medical facilities throughout Greece.

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