Military hospitals in Athens and Thessaloniki will start treating civilians as well as members of the armed forces, according to a joint decision by Health Minister Andreas Loverdos and Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos that was made public yesterday. According to sources, the decision is aimed at making maximum use of the resources of military hospitals, while taking some of the burden off understaffed state hospitals, which are expected to suffer from the government’s plans to streamline the debt-ridden health service. It is expected that dozens of beds will be available at the five military hospitals. The National Center for Health Operations (EKEPY) and the National First Aid Center (EKAB), which operates the country’s ambulances, are to be briefed daily on the number of beds available. Under the new scheme, the military hospitals will also provide medical tests to members of the general public. There are also plans for doctors based at the military hospitals to offer their services at state general hospitals experiencing particularly acute shortages. It remained unclear yesterday when the new scheme would come into effect and whether it will be extended to include military hospitals in other parts of the country. In a bid to express their frustration with the government’s plans to slash spending in the health sector, doctors at state hospitals yesterday declared that all medical examinations would be free next week, as of Monday, November 22, through Sunday, November 28. A nominal 3-euro nominal fee usually paid for each visit will also be waived, doctors have said.