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Greek Hospital Workers Protest Conditions, Want More ICU Beds

ATHENS – Applauded as front-line responders dealing with the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic,  hospital workers are using International Nurses Day on May 12 with protests where they work, upset with conditions and a lack of equipment.

That includes Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds critical to dealing with the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic as the country had been left with only 592 for a population of 11 million people as budgets were slashed during an economic and austerity crisis.

The number of ICU beds is being more than doubled, thanks in large part to benefactors and the Diaspora as the New Democracy government said it wants to be ready for a resurgence of the virus or its return in the autumn.

POEDIN said the government target of 2,000 ICU beds isn't enough, reported Kathimerini, saying that at least 3500 are needed as are COVID-19 tests for all staff and workers and incoming patients.

The hospital workers union POEDIN said the demonstrations are going to highlight what it said were the “chronic illnesses” of the battered public health system, complaining the budget is only 4.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP.)

They want that increased to 7.5 percent, especially with the loss of thousands of doctors who fled the country during the crisis to find work and better pay elsewhere, leaving public hospitals with limited numbers.

They also want the hiring of 3,000-4,000 more staff each year to cover what they said is a departure of nearly 1500 a year and with public hospitals lacking even basic equipment or goods such as toilet paper or toilet seats and not enough nurses as well.

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