Budget cutbacks have resulted in about a third of staff positions being vacant at one of Greece’s largest hospitals, the KAT Hospital in northern Athens’s Kifissia, according to workers. Health Ministry figures show that at the end of 2006, 1,636 people were on the hospital’s payroll when the total number of positions should have been 2,590. «KAT is one of the biggest centers for the treatment of injuries in Greece and takes patients from all over the country. This should result in special handling on the part of the government – something which does not exist,» the head of the KAT workers’ group, Costas Litras, told Sunday’s Kathimerini. Of the 820 nurses at the hospital in 2004, there are now just 729 at the hospital, as those that have retired are not being replaced, Litras added. Hospital management admits to delays in hiring new personnel but claims that steps have been made to lift staffing levels. «In the last 20 years, KAT has been left behind in terms of staff hiring. This cannot be corrected from the one moment to the next. However, there are attempts being made. In the last month, we have sworn in 35 new nurses,» Theodoros Tolis, the director at KAT, told Kathimerini. Due to staff cuts, five of the 14 operating theaters at the hospital do not operate, the workers claim. Management, on the other hand, said the theaters have been shut down as they are due for renovation work. Fed up staff from the hospital’s X-ray units have even sent a legal notice to the Health Ministry threatening legal action if they are not given their entitled time off. The staff says they have not been able to take their scheduled days off or any other type of leave in the last two months due to the excessive workload.