Athens and Pireaus doctors hold work stoppage

Doctors at hospitals in Athens and Piraeus called a four-hour stoppage on Thursday. The doctors, who were expected to stop working from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., are continuing their protests against government plans for public health sector reforms. They also intend to hold a demonstration outside the Health Ministry.

Government plans recently announced by Health Minister Andreas Loverdos include reductions in hospital beds along with hospital mergers, doctor transfers and cuts to administrative staff.

The ministry’s plan to restructure the National Health System (ESY) by January 2012 involves the current number of 36,000 hospitals being reduced to 32,000, the number of clinics and specialist units at public hospitals going down from 2,000 to 1,670, with 330 merging and another 40 being moved in an effort to increase efficiency in the sector.

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