“Rising mortality rates, an increase in life-threatening infections and a shortage of staff and medical equipment are crippling Greece’s health system,” a Guardian report begins, describing the conditions of Greek hospitals and the state of the country’s health system.
“In the name of tough fiscal targets, people who might otherwise survive are dying,” said Michalis Giannakos, head of the Panhellenic Federation of Public Hospital Employees. “Our hospitals have become danger zones,” he added.
The report uses figures by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control revealing that about 10% of patients in Greece were in danger of developing potentially fatal hospital infections, that have cost 3,000 lives.
According to Giannakos, lack of personnel, unsanitary conditions and absence of cleaning products are the main reasons for the problems, all due to spending cuts. The unionist brought up the recent example of a woman who died in a Zakynthos hospital after a routine leg operation. He also said that there is only one nurse per 40 patients, beds are not disinfected and there is no antiseptic soap in many cases.
Other than lack of personnel, Greek public hospitals face shortages and malfunctions of sophisticated medical equipment, rendering several medical services impossible. Even simple tests, such as blood tests, are no longer conducted at many hospitals because laboratory expenditure has been slashed.
Several hospitals survive mainly because of the heroism of doctors and nurses who work overtime. Also donations of equipment by philanthropists and supplies by patients keep some hospitals operating.
The Greek National Health System problem is exacerbated by the fact that many doctors have fled abroad during the economic crisis, and their positions are not filled, with trainees becoming the backbone of pubic hospitals.