Greece’s health sector falls short during the tourism season

According to the news site Politico, health centers on tourist islands are experiencing disruptions due to the shortage of medical staff in Greece.

Giorgos Mathiopoulos, Head of the Greek National Emergency Aid Center (EKAV), speaking to Politico on the subject, said, “We have to redesign our ambulance service from scratch, as there are big gaps in the country.”

“We sent some (health) workers from other regions to the islands to meet the increasing demand for the health sector during the tourism season. Our colleagues had to sacrifice their summer holidays for this, but these are of course temporary solutions,” Mathiopoulos said.

Ambulance shortage

3 new ambulances were purchased for the 40 thousand residents of Kos Island and more than 1 million visitors who flock to the island every tourism season. However, an ambulance needs 11 personnel to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Since there are only 10 emergency medical technicians on the island, only 1 ambulance can be operated.

In June, a 63-year-old unconscious woman died in Kos during the response of the only active ambulance to another emergency, while she was trying to be brought to the hospital in a pickup truck box.

In the capital Athens, a 19-year-old 8-month pregnant woman died after 5 hours of making more than 20 calls to call an ambulance, and her baby could not be saved. It is recorded that while around 90 ambulances should be ready in Athens, only about 50 ambulances are on duty during the day.

Health workers do not like to work on the islands

It is stated that healthcare professionals do not like to work on the islands due to the high cost of living, and it is one of the main problems to find long-term rental homes due to the high prices of daily rented houses for tourists.

EKAV and doctors are also reacting to the government’s appointment of firefighters, army members and local authority drivers to make up for the staff shortage in tourist areas.

In an emergency, the dangers of untrained first responders at the scene are pointed out.

Opposition parties argue that public hospitals, which are said to be in a much worse condition than before the COVID-19 outbreak, should be privatized.

Greek Prime Minister Kiryakos Mitsotakis, who was re-elected in June, stated that the National Health System was a priority and promised to recruit 10,000 health workers, including 800 ambulance drivers and 250 motorcycle emergency medicine technicians.

The Confederation of Public Hospital Employees (POEDYN) argues that hiring will only serve to replace staff who have recently retired.

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