Greek National Health System in chaos

An ongoing investigation into the ills of the health sector has brought to light many failings that damage the image of the National Health System (ESY) in the eyes of the public and make drastic changes essential. On Tuesday, Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis told the press about patients «directed» to private clinics, unnecessary medical procedures, and «ghost» workers created to extract more wages – a scam made possible by the failure to document ESY staff. The result is that millions of euros which could be used to improve the provision of health services are being squandered. However, Kaklamanis believes that, on balance, ESY does benefit society. As for his plans to improve ESY, he said, «I will be happy if we can solve in four years the problems that haven’t been solved in the past 100 years.» The minister also dismissed suggestions that he is planning to run for mayor of Athens. «That is not the issue now,» he said. Commenting on the minister’s statements, Evangelos Venizelos, who handles employment, social policy and heath issues for the opposition PASOK party, said, «After 17 months, Kaklamanis hasn’t realized that he is not an inspector, reporter, government trade unionist or even an aspiring mayor of Athens, but the health minister.» Venizelos claimed problems in the health sector were getting worse. In a reference to the prime minister’s pre-election visits to hospitals, where TV crews shot footage of insects on hospital premises, Venizelos suggested that showing photos of grubby hospital premises might be a suitable opposition tactic but was no substitute for formulating government policy. Kaklamanis replied by saying that Venizelos «may be an excellent constitutional scholar, but it takes a lot of effort, a lot of work and a lot of study to become knowledgeable about health matters. «I don’t know if his comments help his personal ambitions, but they certainly don’t help improve the provision of services by ESY,» Kaklamanis added.

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