Impact of medical shortages being felt

Just a day after medical suppliers pulled the plug on state hospitals, demanding the settlement of huge debts, a 53-year-old man died in a Thessaloniki ambulance and a hospital in the northern city ran out of oxygen. The man died on his way to hospital after the ambulance had run out of the adhesive electrodes that he needed, first-aid workers said. Speaking to Kathimerini after the incident, the president of Thessaloniki’s ambulance workers, Ierotheos Giamouridis, blamed the patient’s death on shortages. «This person relied on the health system but unfortunately the system was unable to help him due to material shortages,» he said. Ambulance staff claim that there have been shortages for several weeks. The Health Ministry, which yesterday ordered an urgent investigation into the cause of the man’s death, countered that Thessaloniki ambulance workers had not applied for fresh supplies. Meanwhile, at the city’s Aghios Dimitrios hospital there was another crisis. Five patients in the hospital’s intensive-care unit were nearly left without oxygen as suppliers had suspended deliveries to protest unpaid debts. In the end the hospital borrowed some oxygen cylinders from the city’s AHEPA hospital as a temporary solution. The situation at beleaguered state hospitals is set to get worse today as doctors start a new 48-hour strike, continuing their protest at a government about-turn on a collective labor agreement. Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos attempted to appease unionists yesterday, telling Parliament that the draft law, which proposes a smaller increase in the basic salary than originally agreed, would be subject to renegotiation in a year’s time.