A growing dispute between doctors at EOPYY, Greece’s largest healthcare provider, and the Health Ministry intensified Wednesday, with the ministry threatening to immediately enforce a mobility scheme of forced transfers and layoffs after doctors voted to extend their strike action through December 13.
Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis said he would give the doctors until next Wednesday, when Parliament’s social affairs committee is next scheduled to convene, to join government officials for talks. If they fail to do so, Georgiadis told the committee Wednesday, decisions will be taken in their absence. “The reforms will happen a lot quicker,” the minister said.
The original plan foresees the transfer of the management of EOPYY’s polyclinics to a new system of primary healthcare taking place over a period of six months and EOPYY employees being inducted into the mobility scheme gradually to ensure that the health system continues to operate relatively smoothly and without serious disruptions for patients. If protesting doctors refuse to cooperate, however, the overhaul will be speeded up, Georgiadis said.
Earlier in the day, unionists representing the striking doctors had announced that they were extending their strike through December 13, insisting on a written pledge from the ministry that there will be no layoffs.
Georgiadis reacted almost immediately, stressing that the government would not be blackmailed and would not allow the doctors to leave Greeks insured with EOPYY in limbo for an indefinite period of time. “I ask them, I beseech them to stop the strike now,” the minister said of the protesting doctors.