NEWS

Health system needs fixing, experts warn

PENNY BOULOUTZA

TAGS: Health

Greece’s National Health System (ESY) is unable to rise to the challenge of meeting increased demand with offering good-quality and accessible services, a new study commissioned by the Dianeosis think tank underscores.

Titled “A New National Health System,” the study by seven respected and specialized academics puts forward a series of proposals for overhauling what they describe as a failing system.

According to data cited in the study from various reputable sources, one in five citizens have been unable to pay for health services when they needed them, one in three cancer patients cannot see their doctor regularly and one in four have trouble getting the drugs they need, and six in 10 diabetics struggle to meet the cost of controlling the disease.

“The difficulties of accessing and using health services have grown particularly for those who need them most, thus jeopardizing the element of equality and social justice,” the authors note.

They point to underfunding, understaffing and mismanagement as the source of most of the system’s ills, adding that the irrational distribution of material and human resources is another problem contributing to an unfair and inadequate system.

Greece, the study explains, spends at 5 percent of gross domestic product on public healthcare against a European Union average of 7 percent, while more than 35 percent of citizens’ healthcare spending goes to the private sector.

Moreover, 9.7 percent of household health spending is considered “catastrophic” in that it exceeds a certain proportion of household income.

At the same time, the number of patients who stayed at public hospitals rose 30 percent between 2009 and 2018.

The experts’ three-year overhaul plan focuses on improving the administration and reorganizing of ESY, elevating the role of social security provider EOPYY so that it manages all public spending on health, merging hospitals and redefining their roles, boosting primary healthcare and introducing more flexible forms of labor in ESY.

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