Greek hospital care needs radical surgery

Haralambos Roussos is fond of saying that the lack of intensive care for the seriously ill is equivalent to not having penicillin to cure meningitis. Professor of intensive care and chairman of the Central Committee for Intensive Care of the Central Health Council (advisory board to the Ministry of Health) Roussos made waves last week in the area of hospital care by using statistics to point out something well known: Intensive care facilities in Greece are wholly inadequate. In a country where road accidents are a daily occurrence – Greece ranks first in the world in car accidents – there is a huge need for intensive care units to deal with multiple injuries. Many patients are forced to go private, forking out impossibly large sums of money. After a serious operation, a patient may be put into an ordinary ward due to a lack of beds in intensive care units, and especially post-operative recovery units, despite the fact they may risk a relapse. In an interview with Kathimerini, the intensive care expert analyzed the problem from its roots. Modern hospitals, he noted, were changing worldwide, due to rapid advances in technology and progress in interventional medicine. «We are in a transition period, during which conventional beds are decreasing all over the world, as are the length of stays in hospitals,» Roussos said. Concurrently, emergency departments, outpatients’ clinics, day hospitals, intensive care, stroke, burn, respiratory, special care and post-operative recovery units are proliferating. Medical advances and new knowledge mean that patients that previously required hospitalization are adequately dealt with by outpatients’ departments and day hospitals. The difficult cases of yesteryear are walkovers today; what used to be incurable is now feasible. «There is no choice but to meet the demands of the times and, slowly but surely, move ahead with changes in hospital medicine because already in this country the sector is lagging behind,» said Roussos.