Doctors implicated in IKA scam

The country’s largest social security fund, IKA, said yesterday that it appears to have uncovered a 3.3-million-euro scam involving doctors who had been illegally issuing wheelchairs to non-existent patients over a five-year period. Angelos Moschonas, deputy director of IKA in Patras, said yesterday that the alleged incident involved 13 doctors, mainly orthopedists, between 1999 and 2003. «The management of IKA… has handed over a complete file with all the necessary information to justice officials, so that they can investigate who is accountable,» he said. According to the fund, the doctors had issued wheelchairs and other equipment, such as splints for broken bones, over the period in question to the value of 4.5 million euros. In other cities with a comparable population to that of Patras, the value of equipment handed out did not exceed 1 million euros, Moschonas said. «In 2000 alone, IKA Patras, which provides social insurance for 123,000 people, issued 6,609 splints. At IKA Piraeus, with 220,000 insured people, there were only 55 issued,» he added. Investigations of 350 cases so far have uncovered 211 incidents where the attached file did not have the necessary information. Moschonas said that in some incidents doctors had issued equipment to people at addresses across Greece that did not exist or addresses which belonged to hotels or shops. In one incident, a doctor had granted a wheelchair following a request from a patient that records show had died on that day. Moschonas added that an investigation is also taking place at IKA Ptolemaida, northern Greece, but gave no further details.