NEWS

Wanted: Doctors to work in two brand-new state-of-the-art hospitals

Two ultramodern hospitals, the University Hospital of Western Attica in Haidari and the Papageorgiou Hospital in Thessaloniki, are currently caught in the crossfire between university doctors and the Health Ministry. The Athens and Thessaloniki medical schools want the hospitals administered by the universities, and the issue has flared up as university doctors object to some provisions of the new law governing the national health system (ESY). The Papageorgiou Hospital opened partially two and a half years ago, but hasn’t gone into full-scale operation because university doctors are refusing to allow the establishment of medical school clinics at the hospital unless there are at least 16 clinics. Meanwhile, the Haidari hospital will be ready in June, but the Athens Medical School has yet to decide which university clinics will be set up there. Health Minister Alekos Papadopoulos described the transfer of the clinics to Haidari as an historic opportunity for the Athens Medical School, which is currently spread out over 14 hospitals in Attica. Ministry sources attribute the apparent reluctance of the university doctors to move to Haidari to their unwillingness to leave central Athens, where their private clinics are situated. These sources add that if the Athens Medical School refuses to shift its clinic, then «the best of the national health system will be transferred there.» The issue of the university administering the hospital was the topic of discussion last week at the minister’s meeting with Athens University Rector Giorgos Babiniotis, Athens Medical School President Christos Kittas and Vice President Giorgos Kreatsas. The application was rejected because Haidari belongs to ESY and there is no question of changing its legal status, a view Education Minister Petros Efthymiou is said to share. The ministry refuses to countenance the prospect of the hospital being operated by one agency and administered by another. The medical school also has questions about the conditions under which university hospitals operate. As Kittas told Kathimerini: «The University Hospital of Western Attica is probably the best hospital we have in Greece, but it is still a regional hospital that was planned for inclusion in ESY. «At a university hospital, it is understood that 30 percent of clinical activity must be directed toward university education, so those activities will be taken away from the health services being offered to the medically underprivileged area of western Attica. So the ministry must ensure that the hospital’s services are expanded.» The Health Ministry has handed over part of the plot of land where the hospital is located to the university to build additional infrastructure, such as the medical school’s laboratories. Kittas points out that this land is located on the future site of the hospital car park, a problem which could be resolved if the Defense Ministry was willing to hand over an adjacent plot from the neighboring army camp. «We are in the year 2001, development is proceeding at full speed, and we are putting the brakes on ourselves,» says Kittas. «Let’s hope all sides will show understanding.»