Not Enough Staff, Greek Cancer Patients Face Waits, Children’s Surgery Stopped

(Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)

ATHENS – With the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA having continued cuts to haelth care while claiming otherwise, cancer patients needing radiotherapy treatment must wait up to three weeks for treatment at Attica’s public hospitals due to understaffing and surgery at a children’s hospital has been stopped, doctors said.

They said that lives could be saved with the hiring of just 25 technicians, reported Kathimerini, as the Medical Association of Athens had complained about long waiting lists for cancer patients at public hospitals and full staffing of the radiotherapy units.

There are 46 radiotherapy machines in operation at Greek hospitals – 29 in the public sector and 17 in the private sector and the Stavros Niarchos foundation stepped in to donate 12 linear accelerators that deliver high-energy x-rays or electrons to the region of the tumor but the government hasn’t responded with staff needed to operate equipment.

Giorgos Pissakas, president of the Hellenic Society of Radiotherapeutic Oncology said the long wait to start radiotherapy treatment at an Attica state hospital is “unacceptable,” particularly for brain and cervical cancers but it wasn’t said if anyone has died while waiting to be treated.

Over the past two years, there have been hirings, Pissakas said, but they have been to radiology departments, not radiotherapy. There was no immediate response from health ministry or Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis who had said that SYRIZA has improved health care.

The Penteli Children’s Hospital in northeastern Athens has been forced to stop all surgeries due to a lack of staff, according to POEDIN, the union representing Greek hospital workers.

Of its four anesthetists, the hospital currently has only two, as one is on maternity leave and another on educational leave, the union said, noting that the absent staff have not been replaced with government cutbacks continuing despite the costs.

“The government is demolishing hospitals in order to achieve its primary surpluses,” POEDIN said, referring to Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras trying to show the economy is recovering in a bid to regain voters as he trails badly in polls with elections coming this year.

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