Health system has ‘one year left’

The national health system will collapse within months if Greece does not achieve growth soon, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos warned Friday.

Loverdos told Parliament that public healthcare was running seriously short of funds and could soon have to stop treating patients. ?This is the final year,? he said. ?If there is no growth or money for social security funds, the national health system will not be able to keep its infrastructure operational in 2013.?

The minister?s warning came less than 24 hours after Greece?s lenders delivered a 10-page report to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos containing an outline of the structural reforms and austerity measures that Greece will have to adopt if it is to receive more loans from its eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund.

The report calls for further public spending cuts, including in the healthcare sector, and for efforts to reduce medicines expenditure. ?Establish targets for pharmaceutical expenditure and for prescription of generic medicines: 50 percent of the volume of medicines prescribed and reimbursed are generics (to be done upfront),? says the report compiled by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Loverdos has overseen a number of attempts to reduce Greece?s drugs bill, including instructions to the newly formed National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPPY) to only prescribe generic drugs to patients. Currently, only 18 percent of drugs prescribed in Greece are generic. The government hopes the move will help reduce the drugs bill by 900 million euros to 3.2 billion.

Loverdos is to submit a new law that will impose severe penalties on EOPPY doctors who are deemed to be too liberal with prescriptions as well as for committing other disciplinary offenses.

The minister also said Friday that he would resubmit to Parliament next week a draft bill for the liberalization of pharmacy opening hours after MPs rejected the reform this week.

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