Ongoing disputes at the expense of the patients and healthcare

THESSALONIKI – The process of putting university clinics in the Papageorgiou Hospital started four years ago but agreement has yet to be reached, despite many meetings between doctors’ representatives and the Health and the Macedonia-Thrace ministries. The university doctors’ unions say the university «started out as a university hospital, was funded as such by the European Union, is referred to as such in all the documents, but is not being handed over to the university as it should be.» In December 1999, Thessaloniki University appealed to the Council of State against a Health Ministry decision to shift five national health system (ESY) clinics to the Papageorgiou, but the Council of State has not yet ruled on the matter. The doctors object to the legal status of the Papageorgiou, which was originally set up with parliamentary approval in 1999 as a public hospital and also as a private legal entity. In other words, it is part of the system of hospitals rostered to be on call for emergency cases, uses the same invoices and treats patients insured with all organizations; yet it has short-term private labor contracts and its deficits are covered by state subsidies. The Thessaloniki medical school staff union demands that the hospital have the same administrative and financial autonomy as university administrations, and proposes the transfer of at least 16 clinics to meet laboratory and clinical needs. It also objects to the hospital’s legal status, the participation of three representatives of the Papageorgiou Foundation in the hospital’s management and the criteria used to make staff appointments. The ministry The ministry, which originally planned the transfer of five clinics, is discussing the issue with the doctors in hopes of reaching a mutually acceptable solution. Both the hospital’s administration and Constantinos Kallergis, president of the regional ESY of Central Macedonia, want the hospital brought to completion by the end of the year, «whether the university doctors accept or reject the establishment of the clinics,» as Nikos Papageorgiou, chairman of the hospital’s board of directors, told Kathimerini. The Thessaloniki Medical Association president, Christos Papaconstantinou, retorts that «the university will not allow the hospital to be staffed like a poor relation,» which he believes would result in it functioning «below capacity and public expectations.» And he blames all the heads of the Health Ministry and the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry, as well as local politicians of all parties «who have never taken the trouble to deal with the huge ethical, political and legal questions raised by the operation of this hospital.»

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