Started by the physicians’ syndicate, Greece's strike movement has also been joined by nursing staff, surgeons and the hospitals’ suppliers themselves. Now, the Greek health system is collapsing.
For a number of days, Greek hospitals have been working with skeleton staff. The strike movement, which was started by the physicians’ syndicate has been joined by nursing staff, as well as surgeons, and by the hospitals’ suppliers themselves.
“We just can’t go on supplying hospitals without being paid,” explains Mr Panagiotis Stavrolemos, head of suppliers to Greek hospitals. “Our own suppliers now refuse to sell to us. It’s been four years that we’re not being paid! The state’s debt to supplying companies exceeds 1.5 billion euros. It is no longer possible to survive with this much overdue.”
There is a lack of compresses, injection syringes and of some medicines in the hospitals. This has led to many surgical operations being postponed and in some cases even cancelled. Doctors are afraid that the worst is yet to come. As Stathis Tsoulakos, the Head of Hospital Physicians of Greece, says, “People in all sectors of the Greek health care system are angry. The State owes money to everybody. Without equipment, without personnel and without sleep, we just can’t do our jobs. We’re headed towards total chaos”.
Experts agree that the total debt amounts to four billion euros. Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos blames it on the global financial crisis. But Greek public opinion denounces a deeply corrupt system that failed years ago. In the case of emergency, Greeks seek recourse at private health establishments. But, although they are immediately taken care of, the whopping cost is prohibitive for many.
The conservative government’s opposition is calling for a radical reform of the system with more flexibility and more transparency. “Fifty seven percent of total costs for health care go to private businesses,” complains Thanasis Leventis, a deputy of the left coalition, SYRIZA. “Compared to other EU countries, the overall budget for the health system is very, very limited. The government cannot go on, ladling out empty promises, just to get of of the deadlock.”
Date created : 2009-02-26