The urgent demands placed on the National Health System (ESY) by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on medical services, not least surgeries, at hospitals around the country.
According to hospital officials, even if the pandemic were to end tomorrow, it would take three to six months for hospitals and patient waiting times to return to pre-coronavirus levels.
Indicatively, the waiting time for heart surgeries at Athens’ Evangelismos Hospital can reach between eight and 10 months as most of the departments (and staff) have been allocated to cover the needs Covid-19 patients. Similarly, surgeries and regular surgeries at the Sismanogleio have been postponed since its designation as a Covid-only hospital.
“A huge effort is being made to help along regular surgeries through partnerships with the private sector,” Health Minister Thanos Plevris told Kathimerini, stressing that national health system doctors have been given the opportunity to perform postponed surgeries at private clinics.
According to projections of the Health Ministry, approximately 97,000 fewer surgeries were carried out in the first half of 2021 than would have been performed if there was no pandemic.
“The trends we saw in 2020, with a decrease in admissions, surgeries and visits to outpatient clinics, compared to pre-pandemic levels were repeated in the first half of 2021,” said Ilias Kondylis, associate professor at the Laboratory of Primary Healthcare of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He added that in 2020, 25% fewer surgeries were performed (approximately 120,000) than on average in the three years from 2017 to 2019.