Cash-strapped hospitals struggling

State hospitals received another 20 million euros in public funding this week but are still desperately short of cash, prompting staff who have not received their full pay for the last few months to hold a series of protests.

As of Wednesday, state hospitals had received 63.3 million euros from the government so far this year but this is well short of what they need to cover their expenses. In January alone, hospitals made purchases worth almost 88 million euros.

The government has reined in funding to ensure that it has enough cash to cover debt repayments but this is seriously impairing hospitals’ ability to function properly. The director of a hospital in Attica told Kathimerini on condition of anonymity that upon receiving funding this week he paid each of his suppliers between 5,000 and 6,000 euros to ensure that they would not stop doing business with the hospital. Suppliers threatened recently to stop providing goods to hospitals unless at least part of the money they were owed was paid.

The relatively small amount of money released this week by the government meant that smaller hospitals received little funding. A number of island hospitals, for example, received just a few thousand euros.

At the same time, hospital staff are growing increasingly upset about not being paid for duty and overtime work. Employees at some hospitals are already staging work-to-rule protests.

Doctors and hospital workers in Athens and Piraeus are due to hold a four-hour work stoppage on Friday and a 24-hour strike on May 20 to draw attention to the problem.

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