Greek public health sector weakens as thousands of medical personnel leave country

Greek public health sector weakens as thousands of medical personnel leave country

10,000 health professionals, including doctors, left for abroad due to insufficient pay, working conditions, says union leader, who urges government to take action to reverse trend

By Ahmet Gencturk

ATHENS (AA) – Thousands of doctors and health professionals in Greece have left the country due to insufficient pay and working conditions, a union leader said on Wednesday, urging the government to take immediate action to halt the trend, which would weaken the public health sector.

Michalis Giannakos, president of the Federation of Public Hospital Employees (POEDN), told local broadcaster MEGATV that 10,000 health professionals have left the country's public health system in the last two and a half years.

Harsher working conditions for doctors owing to a lack of staff and insufficient salaries, Giannakos cited as major reasons for leaving the public health sector and moving abroad where they are paid much more.

As a result, he said, many hospitals have become referral centers, unable to handle even simple cases of patients.

"If their conditions are not significantly and immediately improved, this trend will continue," he warned.

Separately, Theodoros Vasilakopoulos, senior intensive care expert at the University of Athens, told the broadcaster that the health system situation on islands, in particular, is concerning due to an influx of tourists and a lack of health staff.

"Many doctors avoid working on the islands because they can't find lodging," he said.

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