Striking doctors occupy Health Ministry

Hospital doctors called a sudden 24-hour strike on Wednesday morning at the same time that a number of their colleagues took over a conference room at the Health Ministry to stage a sit-in protest.

A group of about 40 doctors who work for the IKA social security fund has forced its way into the ministry. The medics are refusing to leave until they speak to Health Minister Andreas Loverdos.

Speaking on Skai TV on Wednesday morning, Loverdos said that he is always willing to talk to unions but that none of them appeared before a parliamentary committee when invited to do so last week.

The doctors, however, insist that they have not had a chance to put across their views directly to Loverdos with respect to the health reform bill his ministry is preparing.

The general secretary of the union that represents IKA doctors, Yiannis Chronopoulos, insisted that Loverdos has rejected all opportunities to meet with the group’s representatives.

The standoff at the ministry comes a day after scuffles outside the building. Varvara Anemodoura, the head of the Piraeus doctors’ association, was hurt as police tried to prevent medics from forcing their way into the ministry building.

The doctors object to the government’s plans to slash spending in the state health sector, which is heavily in debt. IKA doctors have announced that they will be on strike until Friday in protest at the government’s measures.

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