Greece is seeking to bolster its public healthcare system (ESY), blighted by a decade of austerity, by increasing the number of intensive care beds and securing long-term employment for contract workers, Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias has said.
In an interview published in Kathimerini’s Sunday edition a day before the country starts to lift its lockdown measures, Kikilias said the government aims to raise the number of ICU beds to 1,200, bringing Greece into line with the European average of about 12 beds per 100,000 head of population.
Kikilias said Greece currently has 1,017 ICU beds, of which 840 are in state hospitals, 145 in private clinics and 32 in military hospitals. A total 352 ICUs have been adapted to treat Covid-19 cases, he said.
Kikilias said the government is taking measures to fight a possible second wave of the coronavirus after the summer. More than 4,000 doctors, nurses and paramedics have already been hired, he said, exceeding the original target of 2,000. He vowed that about 2,000 contract workers at ESY will be made permanent.
He said the government will reward ESY staff for their contribution during the pandemic, describing medics as “next-door saints.”
Additionally, the government will set up an observatory to monitor progress internationally in developing vaccines and therapies to tackle Covid-19 and secure a local supply chain for personal protective equipment.
Surgeries will gradually resume Monday at a rate of 50 percent of the average number performed in 2019 in public and private hospitals. Similarly, the operation of regular outpatient clinics will resume.