Hirings to boost hospital reform

Despite the doctors’ strike which met yesterday’s launch of a pilot scheme changing duty rosters at Attica hospitals, Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said he was convinced of the need for health service reforms, pledging 6,000 new hirings. «We respect doctors and we ask them to support this new effort to provide better and faster service to citizens,» said Kaklamanis. He added that the health system needed to change from one focused on the needs of doctors into one centered on patients’ requirements. Doctors at state hospitals in Attica, where the three-month scheme began yesterday, went on a 24-hour strike in protest. Others around the country joined them, requesting pay rises and staff increases. Kaklamanis said these were two of his main goals and pledged to hire 1,000 extra medical personnel within the next few weeks and some 5,000 more in the coming months. The new rotation breaks up «on-duty» hours into two shifts. The first is from 8 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and the second from 2.30 p.m. to 8 a.m.. Some 684 people visited the 12 hospitals on duty yesterday up to 2.30 p.m., with 168 admitted as patients. Under the previous system, one of Athens’s busiest hospitals, Evangelismos, would admit up to 120 patients by 3 p.m. Hospital officials say that under the new scheme, they expect to be admitting up to 40 fewer patients each day. Authorities hope that such a trend could alleviate the pressure on popular hospitals and stop them from having to set up temporary beds in the corridors. However, not everyone is convinced. The head of the state hospital workers’ union, Stavros Koutsioubelis, said patients were confused by the scheme and feared it would cause pileups in other areas of the health service, such as on surgery waiting lists.