Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Minister gets a taste of Greek health system

Labor Minister Andreas Loverdos was rushed to a Veria hospital on Easter Sunday just before 23:00, after complaining of abdominal pain.

With the CT-scan machine out of order since Holy Thursday when the lamp went out — and no spare on hand, prompting an order to be placed abroad — he was sent to a hospital in Naoussa for examination and back again to Veria, after which a doctor decided at 3:30 to have Loverdos go by ambulance to the Νοσηλευτικό Ίδρυμα Μετοχικού Ταμείου Στρατού (NIMTS) in Athens. His diagnosis is stomach inflammation acute appendicitis, and doctors say his condition has steadily improved.

Everyday people were not so fortunate.

Elsewhere in Greece, a 35-year-old died at the Mytilini Hospital after a car accident because, although there was a working CT scanner, no doctors were on duty to read results. One doctor had permission to leave for Easter; the other threatened to resign and took unauthorized leave in spite of his vacation request being denied.

This is not the first time CT scanners have made news in Greece. Last fall, two machines at the Ippokrateio Hospital in Thessaloniki broke down after more than 20 years of use; stroke patients and road-accident victims had to be transferred to Genimmatas Hospital in Athens. In March 2009, €2.5 million in CT machines arrived in the AHEPA Radiotherapy Oncology Unit but sat unused because of red tape, and have since been transferred to private hospitals. The latter may have been overshadowed by a 53-year-old man dying in an ambulance when a Thessaloniki hospital ran out of oxygen.

Nearly four of 10 CT-scan machines in the public health system in Greece are more than 10 years old, prone to technical problems and of questionable maintenance. The Kathimerini quotes a source, saying repairs are delayed because “a state committee for health procurements lacks the staff to approve expenditure.” The Ag. Dimitrios Hospital in Thessaloniki waited three years before its request to purchase or lease a new machine was approved.

Meanwhile, scanners in Polygyros, Kozani, Florina and Ptolemaida only operate part-time and never on weekends or holidays due to lack of trained staff.

The Federation of Greek Hospital Doctors’ Unions says 70 percent of CT scanners in operation in Greece are in private hospitals. I question this figure based on a 2007 experience detailed in “Heart-to-heart encounter with a private hospital in Greece.”

In the News

Money set aside for expenses and bribes stolen in hospital” — Eleftherotypia
A majority 83% of Greeks fear state hospitals, rank quality lowest in EU on par with Romania” — Kathimerini


Greek state hospital CT scan machines obsolete” — Kathimerini
Ο αξονικός…Γολγοθάς μας” — Eleftherotypia
Θύμα του…ΕΣΥ ο Λοβέρδος!” — Ta Nea
Impact of medical shortages being felt” — Kathimerini
ΕΣΥ φωνάζεις, αλλά ποιος ακούει;” — Eletherotypia
Τομογράφος υπήρχε αλλά όχι…γιατροί” — Eleftherotypia
Loverdos improving” — Eleftherotypia

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  graffic wrote @ April 13th, 2010 at 20:54


At least he was attended. I’m quite sure others there weren’t so lucky.

BTW. Do all parliament members have IKA? Or are we still paying them private hospitals?

Kat Reply:

You’re right. As the article says, people died on the same day because the doctor took unauthorized vacation.

Professions that belong to special unions are entitled to private health care, free and clear. I cannot say for sure about Parliament members since they can certainly afford private care with the salaries they earn, even if they’re not entitled to it. Either way, we’re paying for it through taxes and contributions.

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