Deal reached with protesting pharmacists; IKA doctors continue strike

Deputy Health Minister Michalis Timosidis assured on Wednesday that an agreement has been reached with Greece’s pharmacists, who were on strike on Monday and Tuesday in protest at a government decision to reduce their profit margin on medicine sales and social security funds’ failure to settle their outstanding bills.

The union of pharmacists had said that they will stop providing customers with medicine on credit unless they were paid back a total of 400 million euros that they claim they are owed by social security funds.

Speaking on Skai TV on Wednesday, Timosidis said that a settlement has been reached on the outstanding debts, adding later that he hopes customers will be able to purchase their medication as usual within the next few days.

Timosidis also said that the staffing of the new national healthcare provider EOPYY is picking up pace, with a rising number of doctors signing with the new body that is expected to cover around 98 percent of the population. He also said the organization will launch the process for hiring 5,500 new doctors within the next few weeks.

Doctors at Greece’s main social security fund IKA meanwhile are on a four-day strike until Thursday in protest at the new body, which they fear will lead them to losing their patients to doctors working for EOPYY, putting their jobs at risk. They are also concerned that they will not be able to treat their patients, as the Health Ministry has yet to clarify in writing whether doctors that are not with EOPYY will have the right to see patients and issue them with prescriptions.

Timosidis, speaking on Vima radio said that such concerns are «to be expected,» adding that «we are here… to see whether there is good cause for such reactions.”

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