NEWS

Hospital mergers under way

Heralding the first wave of state hospital mergers, Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos Thursday announced the closure of two Social Security Foundation (IKA) clinics and the transfer of their equipment and staff to three Attica hospitals, the Sismanoglio, Aghioi Anargyroi and Aghia Olga.

The vacation of the premises in which the two IKA clinics have been operating will save 3.1 million euros annually as expenses for the rent and maintenance of the buildings would be scrapped, Lykourentzos said, emphasizing that the transfer would not result in any layoffs.

?No one is being fired, no one will lose their job,? the minister said, adding that doctors, nurses and managers from the defunct clinics and at the hospitals they are being merged with ?are being called on to offer their services to citizens, wherever they are needed.?

Unionists appeared unmoved by the minister?s reassurances. In comments to Kathimerini, Dimitris Varnavas, the head of the national union representing hospital doctors, accused Lykourentzos of ?executing the troika?s orders,? claiming that the government?s goal was to demolish the public health system ?and close down half of the country?s 132 state hospitals.?

Lykourentzos insisted that the government?s plan to merge hospitals as a way of scaling back state spending would not amount to a butchering of the system.

?The new roadmap for the reform of the health sector is based on a close study of services, prefecture by prefecture, with the chief criterion being the public interest,? the minister said.

Helath Ministry sources told Kathimerini that the planned merging of the two IKA clinics into the three state hospitals would not result in a reduction of hospital bed spaces for patients.

The sources added that the planned transfers of staff and equipment would contribute to equipping the Aghioi Anargyroi hospital so it can carry out duty shifts as well as boosting the operation of the other two hospitals.

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