Primary care centers in northern parts of Greece are woefully understaffed and lack the necessary equipment for basic examinations, needlessly referring patients that could be treated there to large city hospitals, doctors complain.
Before a 2014 law forced doctors to choose between employment in the public health system and in the private sector, it was usual for doctors to do staff primary centers in the mornings and do their private practice in the afternoons. This meant that all-day, free primary care was not an option for patients.
In northern Greece, primary healthcare centers in cities employed 1,094 doctors; after the law was voted, 595 remained and, in June 2021, they were down to 403. The pandemic has further added to the doctors’ workload, they say.
Due to lack of equipment, patients have to be referred to hospitals even for basic exams such as X-rays.