Greek Hospitals Collapse!

Greek workers during general strike action in Athens in May
Greek workers during general strike action in Athens in May

THE Greek government have stopped financing hospitals and the result is that patients cannot receive even the most elementary of treatments due to a total lack of medical supplies.

Doctors at 20 large Greek hospitals have declared a strike since they have not been paid.

In emergencies the patient and his or her relatives are being asked to go to a pharmacist and buy the necessary medical supplies and come back for treatment!

In Athens, a city of some two million, the Greek Ministry for Health has closed down health offices where patients must get approval before going to a hospital for treatment.

There is only one operating with literally thousands of people waiting every day to get the necessary papers.

Last week trade unionists and patients invaded the director’s office of Evangelismos, probably the largest hospital in Athens, where a meeting was taking place with an IMF official who said that he was there to check the hospital’s accounts.

He was challenged by the trade unionists and was made to leave the hospital.

The Minister for Health Mariliza Xenogianakopoulou has prepared a Bill to turn all main National Health Service hospitals into independent ‘all day hospitals’ which will function through raising their own finances, that is charging patients for everything.

The Minister’s plans, dictated by the IMF, are being fiercely resisted by doctors and staff.

What is taking place in hospitals is no different to the rest of the welfare state; care and treatment centres for those in special needs are being systematically allowed to close down for lack of finances, and patients have stopped receiving treatment.

As was cynically predicted by the IMF and European Commission officials, Greek is in a deep recession.

The raising of VAT to 23 per cent and the increase of petrol by 50 per cent since the start of the month has shot up the prices of all basic goods.

The Greek capitalist press reports virtually every day American and European economists’ predictions that Greece won’t be able to stave off bankruptcy.

Accordingly, the Athens Stock Exchange has dropped to 2003 levels.

The Greek government is insisting that the Pensions Bill, as well as two other Bills on widespread privatisations allowing firms to sack workers en masse with a minimum of compensation, are to go through the Vouli (Greek parliament) during the Summer.

Top on the government’s list for sell-off is Greek railways and last week workers staged a mass rally and demonstration in Athens.

But their trade union leadership refused to propose any other action, insisting on seeing the actual Privatisation Bill first and then deciding on action!

Several trade unions have urged the trade union bureaucrats of GSEE (Greek TUC) and ADEDY (public sector trade unions federation) for strike action. The GSEE-ADEDY response was two protest rallies, one this Wednesday and another one next week. Greek workers feel this is totally inadequate for the situation.

Workers throughout the EU, particularly the UK, you have been warned!