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Demand for healthcare services in Greece dropped by 85% during the pandemic

Demand for health services in Greece’s state hospitals and other healthcare providers has dropped sharply, in some cases by as much as 85%, during the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, demand for medical advisory support online or over the telephone has soared by as much as 300%-450%.

“The pandemic caused a drop in demand in state hospitals by 45%-85% depending on their involvement in dealing with Covid-19, in primary healthcare, in health centers by 75%ct and in private surgeries by 40%-90%, depending on the specialty,” said Prof. of Health Economic Yiannis Kyriopoulos.

Kyriopoulos spoke to state-run news agency amna, citing a study on the cost of hospital care for Covid-19 in Greece that he is writing together with Kostas Athanasakis, general director of the Institute of Health Economics and Kyriakos Souliotis, a professor of health policy.

This was only partly explicable by the fear and concern over Covid-19 and also led to “delayed care” for the chronically ill, such as heart patients, diabetics and those with hypertension, which led to a disruption of their long term care and increased mortality indices, he added.

The reduction in demand, Kyriopoulos said, is likely to affect the planning and discussion on the need to increase technological resources to health, since truly urgent health issues can’t be postponed.

Concerning the treatment cost of Covid-19 for the Greek hospital system, he said that this was estimated at 3.7 million euros per 1,000 confirmed cases, which meant that the hospital treatment for the current phase of the pandemic will likely exceed 10 million euros.

Each case admitted to an ordinary hospital ward costs roughly 8,800 euros, while the cost of a case admitted to intensive care rises to 24,100 euros, he said.

He stressed that the next priority should be to increase the number of ICU beds to the EU average, from 6 to 11.5 per 100,000 population, through a three-year investment programme.

PS Since the outbreak in Greece, tactical surgeries were not permitted but just emergencies, public hospitals cancelled several health services to external patients. Self-employed doctors shut down their offices claiming that they did not have the necessary material to protect themselves and their patients.

Greeks who would seek health services refrained form doing so fearing that they could contract the virus in public but also private hospitals.

Now patients and doctors are waiting to see when they can proceed, once the plan for the gradual lockdown lifting will be announce by the Prime Minister beginning of the week.

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