Clinics thrive at expense of state

The private health sector is thriving, with more and more clinics being built and turnover increasing by 10 percent every year at the expense of the debt-ridden state health sector, Kathimerini has learned. Investment in maternity clinics, psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation facilities – already healthy before the financial crisis hit Greece – appears to be gaining ground as prospects look increasingly bleak for the state health sector, still several billion euros in debt to its suppliers. Among the new private clinics currently being built is the Erasineio, in the coastal suburb of Vari, a project being funded by several banks and which is to offer the services of 130 doctors. Work is also to start soon on a new private maternity clinic, to be called Rhea and located opposite the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center. There are also plans for six new private psychiatric hospitals across the country. Meanwhile, tenders for the creation of new clinics in the form of public-private partnerships have stalled. Plans for other services, such as the provision of health services at patients’ homes, have also fallen by the wayside. Experts told Kathimerini that the chief problem is the lack of any strategic planning for improving health services. «Greece needs better quality services, not more clinics,» said Yiannis Hatzichristos, a consultant to firms in the health sector. He said that 90 percent of citizens being admitted to the hospital need not be, indicating that the current system of patients being referred from their family doctors to a hospital is not reliable. Kyriakos Souliotis, an expert in civil healthcare services, blamed a «total absence of rules regarding the operation of the private [health] sector.»

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