Party politics and ‘public service’ attitude seriously harm medicine

Have Greek doctors been trained to deal with the complex issue that health has become today? Medical training in this country has suffered a blow, while the situation in medical schools is constantly getting worse. Progressively less medical research is presented abroad, despite the fact that a lot of EU funds have been poured into research. But the thinking that prevails in our universities is the same as that to be found in public services. Frequently, this entails the logic of appointment on a first-in-line basis. The organization of courses becomes mired in various demands, justified or less so, which are accompanied by strikes and long disruptions that in the end hurt us and our competitiveness abroad. Another issue is the appointment of a growing number of doctors trained in medical schools abroad which do not always have satisfactory qualifications. This creates a surplus of doctors, with adverse effects on the ability of medical services to function. The doctor who cannot survive easily due to the large number of other doctors essentially abandons his first priority, which is to provide healthcare, and gives greater priority to his personal, social and professional survival. Thus the quality of doctors is far from what used to be the model in the old days, while professional pressure changes collective priorities. For better or worse, health has always been associated with doctors. Indisputably. However, health has manifold dimensions. There is the social dimension, the economic dimension, the political dimension, all of which should be part of doctors’ training. Moreover, doctors should be trained in caring about, and caring for, not only the sick but also the healthy. However, I have to admit that medicine in this country has never been free of outside influence. Before, this used to be the university status quo, which, however, has ceased to have the same influence that it had of old. Now, party politics hold sway. And however unpleasant this may be, it must be said: A «good» university status quo on matters of health is much better than a «good» party political status quo. It’s beyond dispute that big choices over health are the responsibility of politics. What is off-putting in this country is when micro-management – who will be appointed here, who will be transferred there – is also decided on party political criteria. Does this also apply to doctors’ promotions? Electoral bodies for all university posts often have an intense partisan character. I’m not singling out the ruling party. I’m sure that any party that succeeds it will adopt the same tactics. There is a tradition for bad things to continue and for good things to have no takers.