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Greece forcibly enlists private doctors as hospitals on verge of Covid-collapse

Greece’s health minister ordered on Monday morning the requisitioning of private sector doctors’ services in the region of wider Athens region with the aim to help the public hospitals cope with the surge of coronavirus infections. The order affects pneumonologists, pathologists and general practitioners.

Among the criteria for the requisition are that doctors are below 60 years old and have contacts with national health care service EOPPY. The forcibly enlisting will allow doctors to keep their private offices and will grant them 2,000 euros tax-free.

The requisition order is for one month.

Those who will refuse to follow the requisition order are threatened with 3-month imprisonment, state broadcaster ERT reported.

According to a statement by Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias, the Ministry has “for weeks addressed the invitation to private doctors to assist the public hospitals.”

The statement added that “taking into account the emergency conditions and the urgent need for treatment of our fellow human beings, the health ministry is drafting private-sector pathologists, pulmonologists and general practitioners in the Attica region,” Kikilias said in a statement on Monday.

The order foresees the requisition of some 150 private doctors.

In a statement the Greek Doctors Association has sharply criticized the government for its dealing with the pandemic crisis, stressing that no permanent hiring has taken place in the public hospitals and Primary health Care for months.

sharp criticism has come also from opposition parties that have been urging the government to proceed with the requisition of private clinics.

On social media, Greeks lambast the government for the hiring of thousands of policemen instead of doctors and nurses.

Public Hospitals on the verge of collapse
The order comes as the situation in Athens public hospitals is dramatic with dozens of Covid-19 patients being intubated outside ICUs.

Characteristic for the situation is that at the biggest hospital in Athens Evangelismos more than 70 admissions of patients with Covid-19 and 110 of patients with other illnesses were reportedly recorded during the on duty service on Sunday. Ten of them had to be transferred to another designated hospital.

Picture taken on Sunday night by a pneumonologist at Evangelismos hospital.

The on duty service at Gennimatas hospital also on Sunday ended with “war-like conditions”, patients on portable beds, and ICU beds full.

“There are some 12 patients in ventilators in normal beds waiting to be transferred to ICUs,” President of Hospital Doctors Association in Athens & Piraeus Lena Pagoni told Skai TV. She underlined that it is impossible that all these patients reach the ICU.

She added that another general clinic of Gennimatas with 65 beds will be modified to Covid-only clinic.

According to Federation of Hospital Workers POEDIN, ICU wards have been full in 9 hospitals in Athens and Piraeus and intubated patients outside ICU have been waiting to die for days.”

ERT reported that ambulance services transferred 280 Covid-patients to hospitals in Athens in less than 24 hours.

The Secretary of Hospital Doctors Federation OGNE Panos Papanikolaou, neurosurgeon at Nikaia hospital, said that 105 Covid-patients with heavy symptoms are being outside ICUs in normal wards with portable ventilators in hospitals in Athens and Piraeus.

According to official data (stand March 21, 3 pm) 674 Covid-patients were intubated in ICU across the country.

Hospitalizations of Covid-patients in Attica are over 2,000.

More information on coronavirus in Greece here.

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One comment

  1. About 5 years ago I spent 40 days in one of Athens main hospitals. On most days there were so many patients that there weren’t enough rooms and patients were in beds all along the corridors.
    I had to purchase my own tape to put around my arm to keep my drip in since they often had shortages. You were given clean sheets to change your own bed.
    Hats off to some of those nurses, but honestly what improvements have been made in the last 5 years? how can one expect things to be any better in a pandemic if no special hospitals have been set up in a year? Happy to hear about what measures have been taken….