The healthcare system is staffed by aging doctors and personnel holding only basic qualifications, Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said yesterday, as the government appears to have finally counted the number of people who work at the country’s hospitals. Kaklamanis confessed in July that the number of people employed in the state health system was unclear, with estimates varying between 48,000 and 65,000 people. The minister clarified yesterday that the number is 109,667 – in the first detailed recording of the sector’s staff levels in 25 years. One in two does not have any university education, while the average age of doctors is over 50 years of age, the minister pointed out. The inefficient public healthcare system is often criticized for its lack of personnel and poor cleanliness. Yesterday, nurses in Thessaloniki said that if staff numbers do not rise, it will pose a health risk to patients. According to the ministry, however, there are thousands of people who are on the payroll but nowhere to be seen. Some 3,600 people have taken long-term leave, while another 2,500 had been transferred to other state positions without having obtained proper authority. PASOK shadow minister Evangelos Venizelos commented on the findings by saying that it took Kaklamanis 20 months to figure out what is going on at the ministry he heads. Meanwhile, patients at the Dromokaitio Hospital in Athens put the issue of cleanliness at public hospitals back in the spotlight after claiming that they were served soup that contained parts of a rat. The minister has ordered an immediate investigation into the claims regarding the soup, which hospital workers said was also eaten by doctors.