Hospitals in ill health

Results of an annual checkup on the condition of state hospitals, made public yesterday, revealed some serious cause for concern in a number of areas, such as financial management, general administration and cleanliness, as well as personnel and equipment shortages. The Health Inspectors’ Agency looked into public hospital operations around Greece during 2004 and found a lack of coordination between clinics and ambulance drivers on where patients were taken or admitted for treatment. The inspectors said overcrowding at hospitals was exacerbated by the lack of a unified plan to deal with incoming patients. Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis has been trying to tackle a key aspect of this problem by reforming the system for duty hospitals in Athens. A pilot program was launched in December and has, according to government figures, led to a fall in the number of patients treated on gurneys in corridors due to bed shortages. Inspectors were critical of the standard of cleanliness in hospitals. They said too few cleaners were working during the afternoons and most had not been trained properly in matters of hygiene. In all the hospitals the inspectors checked, they found the same mops and brooms used throughout the buildings, possibly transferring dirt and germs from place to place. They also noted severe staff shortages, particularly for laboratory work, and said much of the equipment used for analysis was outdated. Some medicines were also not being stored properly due to a lack of facilities. Hospitals were also found wanting when it came to managing their finances. Inspectors discovered that, in some cases, they were slow in collecting debts and acquiring computerized systems to link the various departments of each hospital. Kaklamanis has been spearheading a drive to take on a new wave of staff at state hospitals, as well as raise finances for the construction of several new ones with the help of the private sector.

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