Attica hospitals to be merged in money-saving scheme

Health Minister Andreas Loverdos presented a plan to merge a number of state hospitals in Athens and Piraeus on Tuesday and warned that if his effort to restructure the public health service fails, the government will only be able to fund 60 percent of the institutions that currently treat patients.

The merger will initially involve sharing department clinics and directors, Loverdos said as he opened a discussion with medical experts and representatives of academic and social groups.

?We consider this approach the most interesting,? he said of the merger plans, which are designed to help reduce spending on public health. ?It brings together the strengths of the hospitals and reduces demand, which in some cases is made to seem large because of the fragmentation of the services.?

According to the Health Ministry, there are currently 26 general hospitals in Attica, which have a total of 450 departments and 9,000 clinics.

Loverdos also sacked the director and deputy director of the Alexandra Hospital, following an internal investigation. The director, Eleni Rogdaki, informed the Health Ministry last week that the university hospital was no longer able to accept patients during duty hours because of a lack of beds and supplies.

An initial investigation by inspectors revealed that there were many beds available and no serious problems with supplies. Rogdaki admitted that she had been wrong to rely on information from doctors that she did not substantiate herself. Loverdos, however, said that he wants the second phase of the probe to focus on the role of the doctors involved. Last week, he referred to the incident as an attempt to ?sabotage? the public health system.

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