Jan 03

In 7th Year Of Austerity, Greek Hospitals Have Become “Danger Zones”:

It is not a secret and it is not new that public hospitals in Greece collapsed. As Keep TalkingGreece.com notes, the first budget cuts imposed with the first bailout agreement affected the public health. Seven years later, the situation goes from bad to worse in fast speed. The austerity freezing of hiring (1:7) ended up in severe shortages in medical and paramedical personnel. The sharp expenditure cuts deprive hospitals of spare parts and essential material. KTG reported many times in the past about the situation in Greece’s hospitals, the deficiencies in personnel and material, incl bed sheets, the never ending bureaucracy.

Now doctors and workers at the public hospitals mention a new phenomenon: the increasing risk of death due to inner-hospital infections.

Speaking to UK’s Guardian about the Greek public health meltdown, doctors and personnel say that hospitals have become “danger zones”.

Alexis Tsipras’s austerity drive has seen hospitals become ‘danger zones’, doctors say, with many fearing worse is to come.

“In the name of tough fiscal targets, people who might otherwise survive are dying,” said Michalis Giannakos who heads the Panhellenic Federation of Public Hospital Employees. “Our hospitals have become danger zones.”

Frequently, patients are placed on beds that have not been disinfected. Staff are so overworked they don’t have time to wash their hands and often there is no antiseptic soap anyway.”

The report speaks of “rising mortality rates, an increase in life-threatening infections and a shortage of staff and medical equipment are crippling Greece’s health system as the country’s dogged pursuit of austerity hammers the weakest in society”.

In the name of tough fiscal targets, people who might otherwise survive are dying,” said Michalis Giannakos who heads the Panhellenic Federation of Public Hospital Employees. “Our hospitals have become danger zones.”

Figures released by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recently revealed that about 10% of patients in Greece were at risk of developing potentially fatal hospital infections, with an estimated 3,000 deaths attributed to them.

The occurrence rate was dramatically higher in intensive care units and neonatal wards, the body said. Although the data referred to outbreaks between 2011 and 2012 – the last official figures available – Giannakos said the problem had only got worse.

Like other medics who have worked in the Greek national health system since its establishment in 1983, the union chief blamed lack of personnel, inadequate sanitation and absence of cleaning products for the problems. Cutbacks had been exacerbated by overuse of antibiotics, he said.

“For every 40 patients there is just one nurse,” he said, mentioning the case of an otherwise healthy woman who died last month after a routine leg operation in a public hospital on Zakynthos. “Cuts are such that even in intensive care units we have lost 150 beds.”

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