Doctors, doctors everywhere, and hardly a GP in sight

Thessaloniki – Greeks wind up in hospital more quickly and have medical tests more readily than any other nation in Europe due to the lack of primary healthcare in the current system. According to statistics presented last Wednesday by the Greek Association of General Practitioners (EEGI) ahead of a congress in Thessaloniki, «in America and in Europe, out of a random sample of 1,000 people, only 10 end up in hospital (and only one was a serious case) while the other 990 had their needs met by primary healthcare.» And the GPs’ association pointed out that huge sums were wasted without corresponding results. They argued that a system of primary healthcare and the establishment of general practitioners similar to those in other countries could make huge reductions in state expenditure on health. Consumerist attitudes toward the health sector were rife, there was an oversupply of high technology and hospital infrastructure, and health services were being privatized while staff and primary healthcare remained underfunded, opined an assistant professor at Thessaloniki University, Alexandros Benos. «A health service that does not have primary healthcare as its basis is no service,» said the president of the association, Mercouris Bosodakis. He went on to suggest that the absence of immediate political benefits was the reason why a primary heathcare system, complete with general practitioners, had not been established. While in other EU countries general practitioners may account for 30 percent of all doctors, in Greece they are in short supply. A university study found that though the required number of doctors for Greece was 27,000, of which 7,000 needed to be general practitioners, the country has 59,000 doctors, yet only 1,000 GPs.