Greek Hospital Woes Push Surgeries Back 18 Months

December 10, 2017

ATHENS – The wait time for surgeries at Greek public hospitals booked through the National Health System (ESY) is reaching up to 18 months, except for politicians the privileged, and it it could take between 3-12 months for an appointment.

That was according to the Health Ministry whose budget has been brutalized even further by the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition which promised to help the country’s most vulnerable but abandoned them under pressure from international lenders to impose more austerity, breaking campaign vows.

ESY had set a six-month target for most surgeries in hospitals, which are so understaffed that there’s not enough doctors and assistant to perform operations even though operating rooms are empty and could be used. That’s the case in 25 percent of the facilities, the ministry said in its assessment.

The agency said it wanted people to get appointments within 20 days of making a call to  phone line center and has been criticized for being unable to speed the process under which patients can see doctors and have operations.

The problem of bribery also remains with some doctors demanding envelopes stuffed with cash before they will operate with patients fearful of having to wait or receiving substandard care often coughing it up without reporting the crime.

The average time National Health System (ESY) patients wait to undergo surgery at a public hospital is much longer than the six-month target, while some are forced to wait up to 18 months, according to the Health Ministry.

Greece’s rich and politicians don’t have to use public hospitals and have access to expensive private facilities or foreign hospitals.

In July, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras underwent a hernia operation at Eugenideio Hospital and then tweeted: “Special thanks to the doctors and nursing staff who, despite the difficulties they face, remain on the front line of duty,” without adding his government had done little to help them.

In a separate tweet, Tsipras wrote that “public hospitals deserve our trust and support more than anything else because that is where the most remarkable, dynamic staff serve.” His staff said the operation was scheduled but didn’t say if he had to wait 18 months for it.


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