The government will abolish private afternoon consultations at state hospitals by the end of the year but will keep hospitals open longer, fulfilling one of its campaign pledges, Health and Social Solidarity Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said yesterday. «Health is a public commodity. People are equal in sickness and death, or at least they should be,» Kaklamanis told a press conference. He rejected the idea of patients paying extra for treatment. He said the new move meant that hospitals would work an extra shift during which fees for treatment would be paid directly to the hospital by the patients’ social security funds. Under the current system at afternoon clinics, the funds pay only the costs of diagnostic tests and not consultations, which are paid for by patients. «The New Democracy party has always been against afternoon private clinics, but it has always been in favor of hospitals being open all day,» Kaklamanis said.