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Surgery Delayed, Surgery Denied at Greek Hospitals Over COVID-19

ATHENS – The lingering COVID-19 pandemic that will enter its third year in March has put so much pressure on Greek public hospitals that some surgeries will be delayed until toward the end of 2022.

Hospital officals told Kathimerini that even if the pandemic ends now that pent-up demand for delayed elective surgeries means many won’t be performed for at least some 3-6 months.

The waiting time for heart surgeries at Athens’ Evangelismos Hospital, the capital’s major public health facility, is up to 8-10 months because ost of the staff has been transferred to deal with overwhelming numbers of COVID cases, as have those at other hospitals set aside only for the Coronavirus.

“A huge effort is being made to help along regular surgeries through partnerships with the private sector,” Health Minister Thanos Plevris told the paper, adding that that national health system doctors have been given the opportunity to perform postponed surgeries at private clinics which otherwise haven’t been largely recruited to aid in battling the ongoing pandemic.

Health Ministry projections whoed that some 97,000 fewer surgeries were carried out in the first half of 2021 than would have been performed if there was no pandemic, the paper also said.

“The trends we saw in 2020, with a decrease in admissions, surgeries and visits to outpatient clinics, compared to pre-pandemic levels were repeated in the first half of 2021,” said Ilias Kondylis, Associate Professor at the Laboratory of Primary Healthcare of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He added that in 2020 some 25 percent fewer surgeries were performed – about 120,000 – than on average in the three years from 2017-19.

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