An extra 1 billion euros will be spent annually by the government to pay for new hirings in the national health service after repeated complaints of staff shortages at state hospitals, high-ranking sources at the Economy and Finance Ministry told Kathimerini yesterday. Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis discussed the issue of hiring more doctors and nurses during a meeting yesterday. Avramopoulos said that some 6,000 new employees would be hired in the near future, starting with 1,700 permanent nursing staff and another 1,200 employees on eight-month contracts. Around 3,000 people will be hired on 18-month contracts via the Manpower Organization (OAED). The proposed hirings will not be enough, according to Stavros Koutsioubelis, the head of the Hellenic Federation of State Hospital Workers, who told Kathimerini that the sector is losing 1,500 employees a year through retirement. Koutsioubelis said that 25,000 places need to be filled, 15,000 of which are nursing positions.