Greek Health Service Fires Bribe-Taking Hospital Doctor

ATHENS –  In yet another case of a Greek doctor taking bribes to do their duty instead of first doing no harm, an ear-nose-and-throat specialist from the University General Hospital of Alexandroupoli in northern Greece was fired.

The National Health Service’s central disciplinary council ordered the dismissal,  almost three years after the incident, said Kathimerini, with the decision only now revealed without any indication whether the doctor was allowed to keep working after seeking the bribe, a common practice in Greece.

“The patient who reported the incident was successfully operated on by another specialist,” the hospital said.

“Anyone making a complaint should not be afraid. There are many capable medics who are also extremely honest,” it added, noting that “in all cases of bribe-taking the punishment will be merciless,” without explaining why if that’s the case it took so long for a decision.

It wasn’t reported if he will keep his license to practice privately not whether there was any prosecution for the crime with many doctors having done the same with no indication whether they were fined or jailed. He was not named despite the severity of the crime.

Earlier in February, a Greek surgeon charged with demanding a bribe from a cancer patient was released from pretrial custody on 20,000 euros ($22,836) bail but still not named with no indication when, or if he would be prosecuted.

The 50-year-old doctor at the Ippokratio General Hospital in Athens was arrested after authorities said he took a bribe a bribe in marked bills that he had demanded from a patient in order to perform an operation, a routine procedure in Greece where patients often hand physicians envelopes known as “fakelaki,” to insure better care or face pain.

The patient, who has been diagnosed with cancer, said he had already paid two bribes to the same doctor, a gastroenterologist, for two other operations, said Kathimerini, citing a police report he filed saying the doctor behaved “indifferently” to his condition even though he had received a total of 2,650 euros ($3026) for the two previous operations and was demanding a further 600 euros ($685), threatening otherwise not to treat him for heavy bleeding that followed surgery.

A number of doctors have been arrested in similar cases with no major prosecutions reported and the phenomenon seemingly unstoppable in Greece, which has one of the worst records for corruption in the European Union.

Fed up with the practice, the notorious anarchist group Rouvikonas had stormed into the office of one surgeon they said was demanding bribes and threatened physical injury and violence if he kept doing it.