Greece’s Public Hospital Workers Union (POEDIN) has lodged a complaint regarding the few ambulances available to serve the needs of people whose lives are at risk. Examples are numerous, such as the recent case of an emergency that required an ambulance to travel from Kalamata to Athens but lost valuable time fixing a flat tire while the patient waited as there was no other ambulance to take its place. The case was just one of many with only 75 ambulance vans with permanent damage and only 60 operating licenses for the Athens capital, half the number required by international standards.
POEDIN states that there are more broken-down ambulances than those in service as the government doesn’t have the funds to repair them. The union blamed the Greek Health Ministry for its failure to upgrade the flagging fleet of ambulances with EU funding.
In Thessaloniki, Northern Greece, there were only 22 to 23 ambulances for 800,000 people and 18 were sitting idle waiting for repairs. In the Peloponnese, the region of Dimitsana has no ambulance after its only van broke down while carrying a patient last week and has yet to be repaired.
Lack of maintenance has caused huge problems. Ambulances are old with mileage of around 600,000 to 900,000 kilometers and often break down along the way. A report on the situation claims that there are cases of ambulances catching fire while transferring patients.