NEWS

Hospitals in crisis due to cuts

Many of the country?s hospitals are experiencing severe operational problems due to dwindling state funding and staff cutbacks which are set to get worse by the end of the year when another 1,000 doctors are expected to retire, Kathimerini understands.

A fundamental problem undermining state hospitals? ability to operate properly are the huge debts of the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY), which owes more than 1 billion euros to hospitals, pharmacists and clinics. The situation has degenerated to such an extent that hospital staff are warning of collapse.

?State hospitals run the risk going the way of EOPYY,? the head of Greece?s hospital doctors? union, Dimitris Varnavas, told Kathimerini.

The situation with duty shifts at many hospitals is ?tragic,? according to Varnavas, who said the cutbacks were also affecting critical areas of specialization including heart specialists.

Meanwhile the seemingly endless cutbacks are pushing hospitals closer and closer to their limits. Health Ministry cuts of 10 percent this August came on top of a 25 percent reduction earlier in the year.

As funding dwindles and winter draws closer, hospitals are reportedly also planning to ask the Health Ministry for a revision of their budgeted funds for heating oil following the standardization of the tax on this fuel and gasoline, which had previously carried a higher levy.

Another problem highlighted by unionists is the fact that hundreds of doctors are expected to retire by the end of December. ?This means that many departments will be left without managers,? Varnavas said, noting that around 1,000 medics are expected to leave the service by Christmas.

Hospital staff continue to push authorities for support. Doctors at the capital?s Sotiria Hospital recently wrote to the Health Ministry complaining that dozens of doctors were needed to ensure the institution can function normally.