Health minister to downgrade regional hospitals, find up to 10,000 workers for scheme

Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis, currently involved in a head-on clash with some hospital unionists, said on Friday that he plans to downgrade several regional hospitals to health centers and provide as many as 10,000 employees for the public sector mobility scheme.

Georgiadis told a news conference that personnel who could be transferred to other positions in the civil service would be found by making small regional hospitals into health centers, which offer a more limited range of services. The Health Ministry has already followed the same strategy with eight hospitals in Athens and Thessaloniki.

Georgiadis said there would also be changes to primary healthcare units but the government is yet to decide whether the centers run by main healthcare provider EOPYY would become part of the national health system or vice versa.

He said 9,364 people work at the 35 primary healthcare units run by EOPYY who could be transferred to other positions. Georgiadis said he sees the mobility scheme as “a useful tool that helps us make reforms faster.” More than 1,600 healthcare workers have already been moved to other departments.

The minister also referred to the alleged harassment of inspectors at a hospital on the island of Corfu as “unprecedented.” Georgiadis said that while he has been at the ministry, more than 40 checks have been carried out on staff and none resulted in inspectors being attacked. Unionists denied they used force to stop the officials from checking on staff. Georgiadis claims they manhandled the inspectors to give employees who were absent from their posts enough time to return.

SYRIZA accused Georgiadis of seeking confrontation with unions and failing to address the lack of resources and closed departments at Corfu Hospital.