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Greek Health SOS: new “reform” bill to leave patients without access to health care

Hundreds of doctors working at National Health Care system (EOPYY) and public hospitals gathered in downtown Athens on Thursday morning to protest the so-called “health reforms” that close down the National Health Care institution (EOPYY), will give the green light to lay-offs of some 3,000 doctors and close down thousands of units of primary health care across the country.

While EOPYY (former IKA, i.e. Greece’s biggest insurance fund for the private sector) will be dissolved the new health care institution called PEDY  has not been established yet.

The bill tabled by Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis will be voted in the Greek Parliament today.

Georgiadis asks that EOPYY doctors should

– close down their private offices within 7 days

– submit their application to be hired by Public Hospitals institution (ESY)

-await for some 6-7 months for their work evaluation with the option to be fired

– eventually be assigned to posts away from their old work places or homes

-hiring by ESY will mostly erase the years of previous working experience with grave economic and job classification level disadvantages.

“They want me to close down my private office,” an EOPYY doctor told me last week. “They want me to go through all the tax office procedures within 7 days in order to close down my business – and you know how difficult that this is-. They want me to await 6 months for evaluation and then eventually turn me down, which means I will again have to start my own business. That’s crazy,” the ORL-specialist told me, adding “OK, they may also send me to a new post far away, but I have children and a wife… They will force me to resign then…”

A couple of days ago, the man in his late 40’s went to his former EOPYY office and removed all his personal items.

“I said bye-bye to EOPYY even though I still have to pay back the loan on my private office, even though it’s hard to find private patients amid the economic crisis.”

According to Greek media, EOPYY has 5,500 doctors.

The Health Ministry estimates that some 3,000 doctors will choose to go private in order to avoid closing down their businesses, even for a short time.

“This will also meet the Troika and EU-Taskforce demand to have a number of doctors removed from the public health care.”

Only 1,000 doctors from the 5,500 do not have private offices.


Doctors have massively filed lawsuits against the health minister but that’s another procedure that takes time.

At the same time,  the doctors-ministry conflict has been strongly politicized, with the medical personnel to threaten to expel from doctors’ associations those doctors-MPs who will vote in favor of the new bill.

On Wednesday evening, the president of the Medical Association of Piraeus was injured and rushed to hospital  after a brawl with the President of National Medical Association. The incident occurred during a meeting of doctors affiliated with Samaras’ Nea Dimocratia. (zougla)

Beginning of the month, EOPYY-doctors affiliated with ND started to break the two-month long strike and return to work.

The young ones apparently prefer to go abroad.

Two months ago, a cousin of mine, a doctor in his late 30’s, took his wife, also a doctor, and his new born kid and migrated to another European country. “The salary and conditions are much more attractive than the 1,000 € in a Greek hospital,” they report.

Right in the middle of the Troika/Georgiadis vs EOPYY/doctors front is the troubled Greek patient, especially the chronic-ill. The two-month long strike of EOPYY-doctors forced the patients to pay their medicine from the own pockets. The extra cost in times of income decreases can be several hundred euro per month.

Patients who seek a private doctor for medicine have to pay €10 per prescription. A visit costs in the average at least €60. Of course, the patient has the option to seek a public hospital and wait more than 2 months for an appointment.

PS too complicated? too much black-mail? Of course. We are in Greece, the country full of surreal chess boards. That’s why the private call-center companies paid by the Health Ministry continue to book appointments with EOPYY-doctors who have already resigned from the institution. lol


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