THESSALONIKI – A state hospital doctor in Greece’s second-largest city was arrested on charges of taking a 1,000-euro ($1153) bribe from a patient to be moved up on a list of people awaiting surgery.
The doctor, a 56-year-old gynecologist, denied the charge as media reports said he allegedly told the woman’s husband he wanted 1,000 euros as a down payment and an additional 1,000 euros for each kilo (2.2 pounds) the child weighed at birth.
The doctor, also said to be an oncologist cancer specialist, said the patient willingly gave him an envelope and he was “surprised” to see money in it. Doctors seeking payments is not uncommon in Greece where patients give them so-called “fakelaki,” envelopes with cash to insure better treatment.
The money was in marked bills, said Kathimerini. The case was sent a judicial council to decide whether he will stand trial.
The practice is so widespread in Greek public hospitals, where conditions at many are so bad that patients have to bring essentials such as toilet paper and hire private nurses, that last year the anarchist group Rouvikonas broke into the office of a surgeon it said was demanding bribes and threatened to injure his hands if he did it again.
Some doctors seeing patients at public treatment centers have told patients they can’t be helped there for free with their insurance but to pay to visit the doctor at his private office at other hours.
It’s not reported whether the arrested doctors are prosecuted, jailed or lose their licenses if convicted and in September, 2015 a doctor who was arrested after accepting an under-the-table payment from a patient returned to work at Evangelismos Hospital in Athens was allowed to return to work because a disciplinary board had not been able to meet to decide his fate within the period required.