As an increasing number of Greeks give up their private insurance and the public health system struggles with staff shortages, hospital workers warn that the time patients have to wait for surgery will keep growing from a few weeks to as long as a year.
It is estimated that just 60 to 85 percent of operating theaters in the country’s major hospitals are in use. Moreover, says Ilias Sioras, a representative of workers at Evangelismos in central Athens, shortages at rural hospitals have pushed more patients to seek treatment in the capital and other big cities. As a case in point, he says Evangelismos conducts around 700 heart surgeries a year, compared to less than 100 at the university hospitals of Rio in western Greece and Iraklio in Crete.
In most hospitals, surgeons and workers say patients with aggressive forms of cancer may have to wait as long as a month for surgery, while for procedures like complex reconstructive surgery, the wait can reach a year.