“The Health is Bleeding”: Protesting Doctors Cover Hospital Front with Blood

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Trainee doctors in Attica state hospitals had an original idea to draw attention at the shortages and shortfalls in the Greek health care sector that is falling apart. During a protest on Tuesday morning, they doused artificial blood at the front of Evangelismos, the biggest state hospital in Athens.

With the slogan “The Health is bleeding” they wanted to symbolically emphasize how dangerous are the austerity measures and the cuts for patients and health sector workers alike.

Representatives of the Association of Trainee Doctors at Evangelismos stated that they were not allowed anymore to freely exercise the medical profession and treat patients according to patients’ needs but according to patients’ insurance status.

Other doctors’ associations gathered outside the health Ministry and demanded to be paid claiming payments for at lest two months.

Greek health care sector is deteriorating quicker than the public debt with the health ministry to be drawn in outstanding payments: to personnel, suppliers, pharmacies and private doctors. 

To this come shortages in material and personnel.

And other debts like to Public Electricity Company: a unit assigned to DEH (PPC) cut the electricity at the Kidney Centre on the island of Aigina, despite the fact that patients were undergoing dialysis at that moment. Theprocess of blood purification continued with the help of the health centre’s own generator.

Personnel Shortage

According to medical news portal iatropedia.gr there has been hiring stop in the state hospitals of the country and thus for the last two years.

Dimitris Varnavas, chairman of Hospital Doctotrs’ Association (OENGE) recalled that the Papandreou government had claimed that health sector would be exempted from the Troika imposed measure to freeze hiring according to a scheme: one hiring for ten retirements.

“However a rate of 1:5 was implemented that soon turned into 1:10. Unfortunately in practice, the 1:10 scheme turned into 1:89 and this quickly moving towards 0:10″.  

Last July, although there were 349 personnel withdrawal from the hospitals, the hirings were …zero, so the official data form the Ministry of Public Administration. A month earlier, in June, things were not much better: 361 personnel ended their work in state hospitals, 7 people were hired and one person was relocated from a state-run enterprise.

That is 710 personnel was replace by 8 people.

“Things are expected to go worse, as doctors are fleeing the public sector for the private sector, while a good number is going to early retirement”, says iatropedia.

Early retirement? Probably out of fear to “never” be able to go into retirement, as retirement age is expected to rise to two years.