The number of doctors leaving Greece to practice abroad was 2.5 times higher in the first quarter of this year than during the same period in 2012, the head of the Athens Medical Association, Giorgos Patoulis, has told Kathimerini.
Earlier this year the Athens Medical Association published a report saying that about 4,000 doctors had left the organization over the past three years, since the economic crisis took grip of the country.
Patoulis said that in Athens alone last year 1,808 doctors asked to be taken of the association’s membership list because they were going to work abroad. This year the number of doctors looking to leave Greece appears to be much higher.
“It is the first time anywhere in the world that there has been such high emigration of specialized personnel,” claimed Patoulis, who noted that very few new hirings were being made.
According to Health Ministry data, the number of employees in the national health system decreased by 3,622. Of these, 1,453 were doctors. However, the departing medics are not being replaced by permanent hires. The ministry has chosen to take on some medical staff on 12-month contracts instead. This year, 675 staff have been hired in this way.
The reduction in staff has helped the government reduce operational costs at public hospitals. From 3 billion euros in 2009, they are projected to reach no more than 2 billion this year.