Bill to boost primary healthcare

A draft bill aimed at creating an effective primary healthcare system that treats patients with minor ailments more effectively and takes some of the burden off overcrowded hospitals is to be presented to the Cabinet for discussion in the coming days by Health Minister Andreas Loverdos. According to sources, the bill foresees the creation of a public company that would act as an umbrella for all forms of primary healthcare, including health centers, hospital outpatient clinics and the polyclinics operated by the Social Security Foundation (IKA). Once the system is up and running, insured patients will only be admitted to the hospital if a doctor at one of these primary healthcare points decides they must be admitted. In emergency cases, patients will be transferred to the hospital by ambulance. The idea is that the primary healthcare system will ease the pressure on state hospitals, which currently have to deal with thousands of patients with minor ailments that could easily be handled at the primary level, allowing state hospital doctors to deal with serious cases. The draft bill also contains a provision for the overhaul of an inefficient, expensive system for supplying hospitals. The new system, scheduled to apply as of 2012, would be run by the companies who submit the best proposals for a more efficient system. If there is insufficient interest from companies in the scheme, the ministry would revert to an alternative plan envisaging the transformation of an existing state company into a body to deal with hospital supplies. In a related development yesterday, National Bank of Greece (NBG) donated 30 million euros toward the creation of a new ward for the capital’s Evangelismos Hospital. A contract for the donation was signed yesterday by NBG’s chief executive officer, Apostolos Tamvakakis, Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou and Loverdos.

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