A pilot scheme to reduce overcrowding in Athens hospitals has been a resounding success, Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said yesterday, though he admitted that efforts to completely end the problem of patients being treated on gurneys in hospital corridors would never enjoy full success. Since the three-month trial program, which has reshuffled «on-duty» hours, began in November last year, the average number of patients on gurneys in the corridors of the capital’s hospitals has fallen by some 88.8 percent, Kaklamanis said. The minister added that the ultimate aim was to increase this figure to 90 percent, but admitted that gunning for a complete eradication of temporary beds was not realistic. According to figures presented yesterday, the average number of gurneys in Attica’s hospitals, which receive some 2,000 patients a day, has dropped from 67.5 to 7.5 thanks to the scheme. Based on this success, the Health Ministry hopes to have the system fully operational in early March. The ministry launched the program three months ago after discovering that at the same time that temporary beds were being set up in the corridors of the capital’s five main hospitals, the rest of Athens’s hospitals had 700 empty beds. The pilot scheme has broken up «on-duty» hours into two shifts. The first, morning cycle is from 8 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and the second from 2.30 p.m. to 8 a.m. in a bid to ensure that all major hospitals in the Athens area can receive patients for emergency treatment during the busiest hours. Kaklamanis added that the health service has struck a deal to rent 30 rooms in the private Athens clinic Errikos Dinan to care for patients requiring intensive care due to a shortage of facilities at state hospitals.