Doctors continue to work overtime

Doctors at public hospitals have not had their working hours cut despite a recently introduced law that requires medical practitioners to limit their shifts to abide by EU guidelines. Senior officials from the Evangelismos and Ippokratio hospitals in central Athens told Kathimerini that doctors are continuing to work their shifts as normal, in accordance with instructions from the Health Ministry. A presidential decree which came into effect this year states that doctors at hospitals cannot work more than 58 hours per week. Currently, doctors work 70-80 hours per week and earn about 450-500 euros per month in overtime. This helps medical staff earn more than the basic salary which is around 900-950 euros per month. Government sources said that the law has not been implemented as the ministry is expected to submit an amendment pushing back the starting date for six months. Legal experts, however, are questioning the validity of the proposed amendment, arguing that it cannot cancel a presidential decree that adopts EU law. Doctors have opposed the move and called for a 48-hour strike on January 18 to 19. Dimitris Varnavas from the Federation of Hospital Doctors of Greece (OENGE) said that until the amendment is adopted, he and his colleagues’ working hours «are all up in the air.»

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