Outrage over condition of public hospitals

Expensive medical equipment gathers dust in the basements of some hospitals as other hospitals go without. Intensive care beds are empty because of a lack of specialized medical personnel. Some hospitals, seen by patients as not capable of dealing with serious cases, are working below capacity and others have patients lying on stretchers in wards and hallways. Above all, the overwhelming majority of staff in state hospitals treat patients with disdain. These were some of the findings recorded by presidents of Regional Health Systems that posed questions about the reforms that have supposedly been taken by all governments over the decades in order to provide Greeks with a «humane» health service. The private sector has been drawing patients away in droves by providing quality accommodation, that is, making a good initial impression. Health Minister Alekos Papadopoulos has set up 17 Regional Health Systems responsible for administering the National Health System (ESY) in their geographical areas to allow for a more immediate resolution of problems since «we can’t manage the entire ESY from the Health Ministry building.» So 12 «junior health ministers» have been rapidly recording the situation and are expected to make decisions in the immediate future. They have also drafted a plan, «Health Infrastructure 2000-2006,» to modernize building infrastructure and equipment. This time it is hoped that the image of state hospitals – chiefly in Athens and Thessaloniki – will change, putting an end to the ordeals faced on a daily basis by thousands of patients and their families.

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