Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias’ strong appeal to doctors in private practice to volunteer to help public hospitals cope with the burden of escalating coronavirus cases has met with a weak response, making a formal mobilization more likely.
So far, only 60 doctors have answered the minister’s appeal, instead of the 200 needed, as a minimum.
It is not just the rising number of Covid-19 hospitalizations that need immediate attention. It is also other patients, often serious cases, whose needs are being neglected as absolute priority is given to the pandemic.
“I cannot imagine any of my doctor colleagues, who have sworn the Oath of Hippocrates, not wanting to volunteer,” Kikilias, himself an orthopedic surgeon, said during a visit Saturday night to Athens’ Genimatas Hospital.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis did not rule out a mobilization.
“We always have cooperation as a first step. Because, you understand, mobilization has a strong legal basis, but when we ask a doctor to volunteer his services, it is not enough to issue orders. We must also inspire [them] to do it. But, if I need to use this ultimate constitutional instrument at my disposal, that of of requisitioning personal services, I will do it,” Mitsotakis said in an interview to Sunday newspaper To Vima.