Plan to tackle shortage of hospital doctors

Doctors at public hospitals will be hired at the same rate as departures and medical staff will not have to work longer hours than the law stipulates, according to legislation being drawn up by the Health Ministry.

The Federation of Greek Hospital Doctors (OENGE) estimates that there is a shortage of some 6,000 doctors at public hospitals. The government’s draft legislation seeks to ensure that numbers do not fall further, which means that every doctor who leaves or retires will be replaced by a newcomer. The coalition will also seek to gradually increase the number of doctors at understaffed departments.

Under the proposed law, doctors would not have to work any overtime beyond that set out in a 2010 law. Passing the legislation could help Greece avoid a fine of up to 150 million euros.

Last November, the European Commission referred Greece to the EU Court of Justice for not complying with the 48-hour per week (including overtime) limit on working time for doctors in public health services.

“In practice, doctors working in public hospitals and health centers in Greece often have to work a minimum average of 64 hours per week and over 90 hours in some cases, with no legal maximum limit,” said Brussels. “There is no legal ceiling to how many continuous hours they can be required to work at the workplace, and they often have to work without adequate intervals for rest or sleep.”

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