Shake-up of healthcare system gets under way

Five public hospitals in Attica are due to be overhauled and will provide the bulk of more than 1,600 healthcare staff that will be moved into the civil service labor mobility scheme.

Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis on Monday published a list of the five facilities, starting with Patission Hospital, which will be turned over to the country’s main healthcare provider, EOPYY, and host outpatient care for Nea Ionia hospital.

Polykliniki Athinon will provide care for patients suffering from chronic illnesses and serve as an administrative hub. Its specialized departments will be transferred to other hospitals in Attica to augment their services. Spiliopouleio-Aghia Eleni Hospital in Glyfada, southern Athens, will serve as a hospice and will also have a radiation therapy department, while Amalia Fleming in the northern suburb of Maroussi will be turned into a physical rehabilitation center with several outpatient clinics. Aghia Varvara hospital in western Athens will be turned into a all-day general health center, while its specialized departments will be transferred to Nikaia General Hospital near Piraeus.

Meanwhile, staff at the Thoracic Disease and Disorders Research Institute will be transferred to Aghios Savvas and Sotiria, both major hospitals in the Greek capital.

In Thessaloniki, the plan is expected to result mostly in transfers as staff numbers are boosted at cash-strapped facilities such as the Ippocrateio and AHEPA hospitals.

In total, 1,618 workers from hospitals in Athens and Thessaloniki will be put into the labor pool, along with 210 doctors from the IKA Social Security Foundation. Their names are due to be published on August 13 and the transfers completed by mid-September.

Georgiadis reiterated that no one entering the mobility scheme will be fired, saying they will be transferred to other services instead. “I offer my personal guarantee,” he said.

Georgiadis also warned unions against protests. He said “disciplinary action will be taken and, in the middle of the mobility drive, this could mean dismissal.”

His comments prompted an angry reaction from the head of the union representing hospital doctors, Dimitris Varnavas, who said, “We will not become accomplices to the destruction of public healthcare.”