Fewer hospital beds; doctors warns of risks of more cuts

Cost-cutting measures at the country’s public hospitals have reduced the number of beds available by 610 in the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2012, data presented by the Health Ministry revealed on Friday.

The ministry’s report on the progress of streamlining efforts said that mergers of hospitals and hospital departments have led to a decline in the number of beds from 35,020 in the first quarter of last year to 34,410 in the January-March period this year.

Expenditure on medicines was also down 8 percent from 180.3 million euros to 165.8 million, and medical supply purchases dipped 7.3 percent.

The regions that showed the best performance in reducing their overall operating costs were Crete (21 percent) and Macedonia-Thrace (17.3 percent).

Meanwhile, medical practitioners who work with the country’s biggest healthcare provider, EOPYY, rang the alarm bells yesterday, saying that any more cutbacks would render the provision of services untenable.

Practitioners have long been complaining of lengthy delays in payment from EOPYY.

The Athens Medical Association issued a statement saying that EOPYY’s mounting debts have “resulted in the financial collapse of clinical and laboratory doctors and technicians, who remain unpaid and are now struggling to keep their practices and businesses open.”