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Fakelaki: Health Minister claims 80% of doctors receive money under the hand

Greece’s doctors are up in arms against deputy health minister Pavlos Polakis, who claimed that 80% of doctors working at public hospitals receive money under the hand by patients. The Athens Medical Association called on the Minister to submit evidence about his claims.

The notorious and decades-long established practice Greeks call “fakelaki” – little envelope – describes the habit where people put banknotes in an envelope to bribe public servants to achieve what should be the obvious. The fakelaki has been mostly used in public hospitals where surgeons and anesthesiologists ask for their little extra bonus in form of several hundred euros. Tax-free, of course.

In an interview to, Polakis said that 20 percent of the physicians full honor the vocation.

“60% will receive money if one gives them and 20% will not touch the patient if they will not get money,” Polakis said adding “we have introduced the surgery list which is used by more and more hospitals.”

He reiterated that hospital managements and the Ministry of Health are open to citizens’ complaints about doctors asking for fakelaki and “it has been repeatedly proven that doctors are being punished for bribes or for illegal prescriptions.”

Polakis felt the need to urge citizens to officially complaints about the doctors asking for bribes apparently after a group of anarchists openly threatened a surgeon in the biggest hospital in Athens.

In  Greece’s  pre-crisis “times of golden cows” citizens could accept to pay the extra ‘gift’ to the doctors. But in times of harsh austerity, recession and sharp income decreases, asking for fakelaki has been considered as an challenging demand. However, many people in need do not dare to file an official complaint fearing about the non-Fakelaki side effects on their health.

The Minister added that the fakelaki phenomenon makes only 10% of black economy in the health sector, the rest 90% refers to over-pricing in the purchase of materials, medicines, reagents and services.

“However, the fakelaki is the only form of corruption that is perceived by the citizens,” he stressed.

Related image

Greek Style Eye Test Fakelaki – ΦΑΚΕΛΑΚΙ In 2014, the director of  Ophthalmology in a public hospital asked for 300 euros in order to bypass the surgery list. Too bad, the patient’s son was a policeman.

The Athens Medical Association issued a statement calling on the minister to submit evidence that 80% of doctors received bribes and furthermore to reveal what actions he undertakes to combat this “unacceptable phenomenon” as they describe it. On their part, they blame the minister for the dire situation in the country’s public hospitals.

Year by year of Greece of bailout agreement, public hospitals have been receiving less and less money. In 2017, they received 1,156billionn euros, that is 200 million euros less than in 2016.

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  1. michelel lavender

    I live in Greece and I hear of public health patients paying the envelope to surgeons all the time,its true,the doctors will lie till the cows come home,even if they had huge salaries they would still do….abuse the desperate people at the bottom of the ladder.

  2. It’s up to the government to stop the practice.