A regulation pushed by deputy health minister Mina Gaga jeopardizes patients’ access to free of charge treatment and surgeries in Greece’s public hospitals.
According to the regulation, full-time doctors exclusively working in public hospitals of ESY will be allowed to offer their services also to private hospitals, clinics, diagnostic and therapeutic centers.
Precondition for the extra work for doctors is that they participate in the all-day operation (mostly morning) of the public hospital beyond the regular hours, except on-call days.
This means that the operation of a private practice or offering medical services to private institutions does no longer constitute a disciplinary offense for the full-time doctors and surgeons of the public hospital system.
The new work possibility up to two times a week is possible after the permission of the hospital governor or president.
This regulation comes in addition to the so-called “afternoon surgeries” where insured or uninsured patients will have to pay extra from their own pockets in order to have a “priority” surgery in the afternoon hours, while the long waiting lists for morning surgeries are notorious.
The regulation is causing a storm of reactions among the public hospital workers, including those affiliated with ruling New Democracy, who are preparing mobilizations.
The sweeping change will bring the end of the public hospital system especially regarding the free of charge visits to doctors and treatment as patients will be artificially led to the private sector, notes daily ethnos.
Moreover, this partial privatization of ESY will mathematically lead to a further degradation of public hospitals since there will be no future recruitment of permanent doctors. At the same time, the medical staff themselves will give more weight to their private work than to their morning work at the National Health Service, which is paid with a normal salary.
The argument will be that there is no time for examination in the morning hours for free, so that targeted patients are taken to private clinics for a fee, adds the daily.
In addition, regarding the surgeries in public hospitals under the pretext of the long-waiting lists for the morning surgeries, patients will either have to a private clinic where they will pay heavily or pay a large amount of money to speed up the process with an “afternoon surgery” in a public hospital.
Note that this “afternoon surgeries” scheme is not easy to implement due to shortage of nurses and other personnel as well as of available beds for the extra patients.
It should be recalled that even though the bill for the afternoon surgeries passed in May, there is only one pilot implementation in one hospital in Thessaloniki.
With all these regulations that half-privatize the public hospitals system, the neo-liberal government legalizes the famous “fakelaki*” and bypasses doctors’ demands for pay rise.
*fakelaki = money under the hand