New push for downsizing of health system

Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos met with hospital directors and other officials on Tuesday to discuss the blueprint for reducing the capacity at state hospitals as part of cost-cutting measures.

Lykourentzos outlined to the health officials what steps should be taken to reduce capacity by 661 clinics and 11,000 hospital beds. There are currently some 2,500 clinics and 46,000 hospital beds. The meeting was called a few days after health officials admitted that efforts to merge and close down departments had been incorrectly planned, leaving some hospitals exposed.

“With the hospitals’ management, we are watching the implementation of reforms closely with open minds,” said Lykourentzos after the meeting. “We have the determination to tackle any weaknesses or imbalances.”

Speaking to NET TV on Monday night, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras suggested Greece should do more to use its public healthcare capacity to treat foreigners, thereby earning revenues from social insurance funds outside the country.

Stournaras pointed to the example of Greece having recently treated Libyan fighters who took part in the overthrow of the Ghadafi regime.

Lykourentzos also met on Tuesday with representatives from the Pharmacists’ Association, which the government has accused of standing in the way of members who want to stay open for longer hours. Neither side made any statements after the meeting.