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Greek state hospital suffer from basic supplies and personnel shortage

 That’s th euniversal axiome of austerity programs: cuts first in wages, pensions and the health sector. The economic crisis in Greece has hit the state hospitals, whether in the big or in the smaller cities. Shortage of personnel, lack of life-saving medication, emergency facilities and basic supplies, while the number of uninsured patients is growing.  In Serres, a city in Northern Greece, doctors tell JOanna Kakkisis about the difficulties they face in fulfilling thier duties and thus on a daily basis.

The 100 doctors and 80 residents who work at the Regional Hospital of Serres often work up to 100 hours a week and see a rising number of uninsured patients for free. The hospital serves the more than 200,000 people who live in the area.

Greek Hospitals Suffer In Ailing Economy

“The economic crisis in Greece is strangling the country’s hospitals, where budgets have been slashed by more than half. As a result, nearly all doctors in both public and private hospitals have seen their pay cut, delayed or even frozen.

Vangelis Papamichalis, neurologist

“We lack basic supplies to do our jobs. We run out of surgical gloves, syringes, vials for blood samples and needles to sew stitches, among other things.”

Last week, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said these shortages will contribute to hospital-acquired infection rates in Greece, which are already among the worst in Europe.

Charalambos Veliotis, pediatrician:

“We only have five state pediatricians to serve the entire region, there should be at least 20.”

“We’re seeing children with severe malnutrition. We’re seeing children who have fainted in school from hunger. Depression is common because their parents are unemployed.”

“We ration supplies, medicine, everything. Sometimes we pay out of our own pockets to buy them.”

Dimitris Kokkinidis, a hematologist:

“Many days, we run out of vials for blood samples, or we don’t have re-agents needed to test the blood. It’s just tragic.”

Kokkinidis’ salary has been cut in half. He now makes about $1,200 a month. That’s what his family of five must live on. His wife, Despina Rizopoulou, works as a family doctor at a private clinic, but she hasn’t been paid for 11 months. (Full story n.pr)

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9 comments

  1. Greece’s government should/must do the following to avert the situation:
    1. Abolish income tax and property tax for at least 10 years.
    2. Distribute land free of charge to all those who want to produce food for a period of at least 20 years.
    3. Declare bankrupcy and forget about those debts for the time being.
    “bond-buy back” program is unwise, and should be stopped.

  2. 1. This is what greeks have done for the last 30 years 🙂 lol
    2. produce food = i assume eu will have to pay for this superb idea
    3. greece is bankrupt = no need do declare this, only our stupid northern politicians want to pay for our greek “friends”.

  3. 1. From 1981 to 2007: How was Greece doing in this period? Then compare it to the last 3 years with lots of tax and higher tax? If don’t know, ask the people there!
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    2. If cost of land is low and property tax is low, it will encourage more people to farm. This is universal law! No need to make blind assumption. If not sure, go ask farmers anywhere, it doesn’t have to be in Greece.

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    3. “no need to declare” means you intend to run away from your responsibility to repay what you owed. By officially declaring it, you publically says that you’re unable to repay it now, but could do it in the future when you might be able to.

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    4. Is it Greece’s fault to borrow money from EU? or Is it the greedy EU’s fault to lend money out? Greed may go hand in hand with grief! If you gambled and you lost, it is your problem!

  4. You may have a different point of view. My is:

    1. Greece was doing what Greece does best = borrowing money
    Just go to wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Greece an take a look at the development of greek debt (I don´t see any significant fall of the debt). And with EU-money life was just wonderful = time after 2007/2008. I don´t care about “people there” because it was them who voted for the government. Now that the party is over it´s the bad government´s fault (nobody from “people there”). Now “people there” decided it´s time for solidarity within europe.

    2. I don´t make blind assumptions. I don´t have to. Greece has proven that it is not capable of selfgovernment. Greek public service is not even able to get the tax revenues under pressure right now (When I first heard greek tax officers were sharing the profit with tax dodgers I thought it was a joke. Well, I was wrong). So I am looking forward to see how THEY manage to “free of charge all those who want to produce food for a period of at least 20 years!” This is probably going to be the longest “free of charge period” ever = zero taxes forever. And in the end EU will have to support greek farmers with a special programme. This is basically valid for almost any industry in Greece (except for greek shipping industry = do they pay taxes?)

    3. Is it that hard to say we are bankrupt? If Greece ist broke so why is greek government constantly denying this? I tell you why: a “wise greek” will first lie (Samaras in Berlin, 22.08.2012: “I personally assure you that greece will pay all loans back to the creditors”), then pretend he is doing what he has promised to do and then say it is the creditors fault. (You did not say such a thing right?) And on top of this some of “people there” even blame others for their misery.

    4. The point about greece is unfortunately that this country never was a productive country that contributed any values or any economic power to EU. The good old acient times when greece was a role model are OVER. Sad but true – but this is not my business.

    Today Greece can not even afford to grant basic support (medicine, food) for many citizens. And this is not the fault of the creditors. It was the greeks who build this country. Now live with it.

  5. Yes, chris, we may have different views; and here are mines:

    1. Greek or Italian, or Spaniard, or whoever want to borrow money from whoever else, it is their freedom and it is their business. Nothing wrong with this picture. And to lend or not to lend is wholely up to the lenders. Did each Greek citizen go to EU banks and borrow money or some individuals (such as prime minister, finance minister,…) from Greece’s past governments go to EU banks and borrow money? I distinguish the government from the mass people. And within the government I distinguish bad officials from good ones. My key point is to avoid blame collectively on the entire Greek people,that is not fair, for in any society there are always good people and bad people. Some society may have more good people than bad ones, and vice versa. And another key point is: Whoever went to Eu to borrow money, must be held accountable for his actions, not his or her children or his/her relatives. Also. the standard practice is to check carefully before lending out the money. The bottom line is lenders must know the risk of lending and bear the results whatever it comes out. Collective generalization of an entire people is not fair, and is called stereotype. Look at the USA, Obama just won the election, did the majority of American people vote for Obama?
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    2. I may misunderstand you, but you seem to ridicule at the idea of distributing land at low cost or no cost to people who are willing to cultivate the land to produce food. Is there any thing wrong if a government give land to needy people in time of need? You said in the end the EU will have to support these Greek farmers with special program, why is that? Why the EU is so caring for the Greek and not so for the Romanian, Bulgaran,…? Was Greece completly sold to the EU? Why did the EU grant Greece membership into the EU? Out of compassion or greedy exploitation?
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    3. again, I may misunderstand you, but you seem to collectively blame on the entire population. Greece’s debts is just a piece of sand compared to that of uncle Sam. Remember Lehman brother bankruptcy in 2008. Who’s fault is this? 300 millions American with millions of gun were still made to foot the bill? Who’s fault is this? If Mr.Samaras lied to get the loans, he must be held accountable for his deeds.
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    4. You’re probably correct on this one. I just hope that mistakes should be learned wholeheartedly, and quickly. Unfortunately, it’s not usually the case.

  6. @Chris,

    you do not only make blind assumptions, you make false ones. And all of them are based on the one basic mistake everybody seems to be making, thinking we somehow live in a “democracy”. We don’t. Whether in Greece, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Germany, France, or anywhere else, we live in a society where people are bought to execute the self-serving policies of their buyers. Highest bidder wins. That is the simple truth of the matter.
    Your assumption that somehow the Greek people are solely responsible for the mess the country is in is to say the least simplistic.
    If reckless borrowing is indeed, as you assume, the cause, then the people if Greece, Ireland, Spain, Porugal, Slovakia, Poland, Italy and everywhere else all appear to suddenly have suffered from this malaise simultaniously. You could be forgiven for thinking it was a contagious disease. However, whether reckless borrowing happens or not depends on one thing, and one thing only, namely the willingness of financial institutions to engae in reckless lending or not. Not reckless borrowing without reckless lending.
    That is the real malaise, and has absolutely nothing to do with Joe Soap, no matter where s/he lives. Joe Soap is not only extremely gullable, Joe Soap everywhere suffers from herd mentality and a little marketing and mass psychology goes a long way to getting Joe Soap to do things s/he would never dream of doing if s/he was approached on an individual basis.
    In Greece, just like elsewhere, the whole situation gets compounded by corruption. the difference is that in Greece the corruption bubbles up to the surface and becomes visible. This is not an indication of Greece being more corrupt than anywhere else, it’s an indication of those engaging in the practices being a little less sofisticated when it comes to hiding their crimes.
    The one and only cause of this is the disconnect between electorate and elected representatives. As long as the electorate does not constantly and consistantly hold the elected representatives accountable for what they do, the elected representatives are in reality given carte blanche to do what they feel like doing rather than what they should do. the fact that the electorate has allowed the position of elected representative to become a postion of power instead of one of service is what is the root cause of the mess everybody is in. That is what needs to change, not just in Greece, but everywhere, including Germany, USA and all the other bastions of so called democracy.
    At best, you can blame Joe Soap for being complacent. But when it comes to Joe Soap standing up against the combined onslaught of Political Power, Finance and Marketing, s/he doesn’t stand a chance. And that onslaught happens not for the benefit of Joe Soap, but for the enrichment of the individuals and organisations orchestrating it.

  7. Hi Ephilant,

    „you do not only make blind assumptions, you make false ones“ Well, this is your point of view and I am not insisting on changing it.

    with refer to your response:

    1)
    „Whether in Greece, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Germany, France, or anywhere else, we live in a society where people are bought to execute the self-serving policies of their buyers. Highest bidder wins. That is the simple truth of the matter.“

    Absolutely correct, BUT many greek Joe Soap and most (all?) greek politicians made this to their common way of life: I vote for you if you get me a job in the public service or you raise my income. This may apply to many countries – goes without saying. What makes Greece DIFFERENT is that in Greece there never ever was an economic strength for such COSTLY promises. And so the goverment voted for by Joe Soap got the money from „the bad and greedy lenders“ to pay for Joe Soap in Greece. The lenders will loose their money, no doubt about this. Only a fool believes Greece will pay back. Does it make Greece look better? No, Greece has worked hard for its current image and hopefully it will stay for long, so no other lenders will fall in for the greek Joe Soap.

    No matter what you say about Ireland, Spain, Porugal, Slovakia, Poland, Italy these countries are still able to get money. They have to pay higher rates but still. They may follow Greece later – who knows. What is important: they have (I believe) a public service structure to change things if needed. Greece is broke and its public service as well as its legal system are a joke. The Lagarde List has been in Greece for how long now? If the Greeks are themselves not able to do the right thing, who will?

    Our criminal politicians will hopefully get a reaction to their doing next year. I hope the german „buyers“ (Joe Soap here) will make it clear.

    2)
    „Your assumption that somehow the Greek people are solely responsible for the mess the country is in is to say the least simplistic“

    Now we are talking about facts. Who is responsible for the greek state, government, infrastructure, legal and tax system? Who has voted for years for these politicians? And most of all who are the judges (still on strike?), doctors (hundreds of „blind“ and „disabled“ benefiting from social system based upon fake declarations), taxidrivers (100.000 € for a licence?), shipyard workers (ask the Chinese how to run a port), gas station owners (doing „their business“)? Once again the greek Joe Soap has for a long time benefited from his political choice. And he KNEW pretty good how it works. But now he learns the economic lesson: „There is no such thing as a free lunch“. We the lenders are about to learn the other „Never catch a falling knife“.

    3)
    „In Greece, just like elsewhere, the whole situation gets compounded by corruption. the difference is that in Greece the corruption bubbles up to the surface and becomes visible. This is not an indication of Greece being more corrupt than anywhere else, it’s an indication of those engaging in the practices being a little less sofisticated when it comes to hiding their crimes“

    The difference are not „bubbles up to the surface“ and the visibility (nice try to make it look softer). The difference is that corruption in Greece was (still is?) a normal part of life/business. The greek Joe Soap did not fight it. He was trying to become a part of it, so he too could benefit from it. That ist what a good friend of mine told me after going back to Russia after working in Greece for 3 years.

    4)
    At best, you can blame Joe Soap for being complacent. But when it comes to Joe Soap standing up against the combined onslaught of Political Power, Finance and Marketing, s/he doesn’t stand a chance. And that onslaught happens not for the benefit of Joe Soap, but for the enrichment of the individuals and organisations orchestrating it.

    I dont think so. Joe Soap in Greece was more than complacent. Many (and I mean the majority) took active part in harming their own country and are now hoping for an easy way out.

    so long Ephilant

  8. What makes Greece DIFFERENT is that in Greece there never ever was an economic strength for such COSTLY promises.

    Very true, as with all the others, who are going down the exact same tube, just a year or two slower than Greece is. France is given about 6 months to go and the proverbial stuff will hit the fan there as well. Ditto with Belgium. Monti is leaving the sinking ship in Italy, probably making way for Greek style austerity to hit Italy. He’s done his bit, hands wont take any more dirt, and will now more than likely reap his reward with an appointed job with fat wage somehwere in the bowls of the mother of all corrupt organisations, the EU.
    The only reason Germany is still able to pretend everything is honky dory dates back to 1953 when the American pumpted billions into Germany to help it pay it’s debt and put the country on an even keel.

    Germany…has been the worst debtor nation of the past century. Germany was responsible for what were the biggest national bankruptcies in recent history. It is only thanks to the United States, which sacrificed vast amounts of money after both World War I and World War II, that Germany is financially stable today and holds the status of Europe’s headmaster. That fact, unfortunately, often seems to be forgotten.

    (Prof Albrecht Rischl, German national, Prof. in Economic history at amongst others London School of Economics and Berlin’s Humbolt University)
    As I said elswhere, now that the pantofla is on the other foot, debt restructuring suddenly does not seem to be such a good idea after all. Much rather convict millions of people throughout Europe (it is not just the Southern Periphery anymore, it now includes Poland, Romenia, Slovenia and Slovakia and the Baltic States)to inhumane poverty than admit to causing most of this and doing something about it. When there is absolutely no need for it.

    Before you start singling out Greece as the bad boys, you might really want to get your facts correct. Greece has in fact, compared to European standards, one of the least bloated civil services. Doesn’t mean things don’t need to change, it does mean that the pot has absolutely no right to call the kettle black. Greece is equally so not the only country fighting reforms. Take as another example the Irish “Croke Park” agreement, nothing short of the Labour Reserve wearing a different suit, with a few cosmetic diferences. Neither Greece, nor Ireland, nor Portugal, nor Spain are currently able to borrow money internationally. In fact, the Irish FinMin is already stating that the bank promisionary notes due next year will NOT be paid. Whether the answer is simply “Nein” or “Yes, but it’s going to cost 7.5% interst” makes no difference. The effect is the same, in one word “Nein”.

    We the lenders are about to learn the other „Never catch a falling knife“.

    The big lesson you, the lenders, are about to learn is yet to come. You reap what you sow. Reckless lending creates odious debt. It is only a matter of time before somebody tells you where to stuff you make-belief money. And in a few months/years, you will suffer your smug attitude towards people who are freezing and starving because of the lenders insatiable greed and hunger for more. God help you when it happens, for nobody else will when your chickens will come home to roost. Just wondering how smug you’ll feel when you’re one of those queueing for the free meal in the food kitchen. Will you remember telling others it’s only what they asked for? I hope you will, for then you will indeed have learned something valueable, something no amount of money can ever buy. You’ll learn what it is to be human.
    See you when you get there.

  9. Hi fairman,

    some of the issues I have written in response to Ephilant (above) would refer to your text. Hope you don´t mind but I don´t want to repeat it again.

    However, some things were interesting in your answer.

    1)
    „Whoever went to Eu to borrow money, must be held accountable for his actions, not his or her children or his/her relatives. Also. the standard practice is to check carefully before lending out the money. The bottom line is lenders must know the risk of lending and bear the results whatever it comes out. Collective generalization of an entire people is not fair, and is called stereotype. Look at the USA, Obama just won the election, did the majority of American people vote for Obama?“

    For the first part (stereotype) I wrote Ephilant why I don´t believe Joe Soap in Greece was only a victim. Vast majority has participated in the greek „system“ or tried to get in it. Second, while lending money Greece benefited from the image that a EU-land is reliable. Greece showed that the EU-fans made here a big mistake trusting this country (and probably some others similar to Greece). Talking of risk, to make a judgement means you got the right numbers. Greek statistics provided to Eurostat were just crap. On the other hand EU-Idiots didn´t check any statistics presented by greeks. The money is gone and that is a fact.

    I myself find that the price is very high but at least all lenders and people in the world get now a real image of greek economic power/condition. Other coutries will follow Greece.

    2.
    I don´t oppose the „idea of distributing land at low cost or no cost to people who are willing to cultivate the land to produce food“. Not at all. But this means that you need a public system and public officers you can rely on. They will have to make sure that no “crap” is done. The idea of greek public officers coordinating such a programme is – from my point of view – just ridiculous.

    so long