The Greek Patient: Hospitals’ Supplies Shortages



Man carries away his Greek Patient wife from a state hospital after doctors and nurses attempted to steal her gauzes

Greek Hospitals… a place to avoid

The pictures in the greek state hospitals has always been embarrassing for an EU-countryPatients would wait for endless hours in crowded corridors inhaling the sticky air. They would be examined in wardrobes-like rooms by doctors who would often not even stand up. Examination at a distance, I’ d call it. 

I have had my foot bandaged with the cheapest material, had an x-ray performed by a not properly working machine.

I have visited dirty and broken sanitary facilities.

I have hunted cockroaches climbing up the wall in the room where my freshly operated father was laying.

I have shared the care of a nurse with other 29 patients

 I have met security staff execute tasks of a nurse or administrative personel

Medical supplies Shortages – Fatal for the GREEK PATIENT , who can’t affort to go “Private”

Since months there have been reports of basic medical material shortages like gauzes, gloves and cotton. There have been cases where relatives have been asked by doctors to go to the next pharmacy and buy themselves the needed material.  But now the situation has gone out of control. There are no sutures, syringes and bandages, dialysis filters or x-ray films.

Daily Kathimerini  revealed a few days ago that major Hospitals in Athens were not in position anymore to carry out operations or tests. For example, “the Evangelismos Hospital in downtown Athens was in no position to carry out heart operations due to a lack of vital supplies… Shortages of orthopedic equipment and filters for life-support machines were also reported.  The Sismanogleio Hospital in northern Athens said that it does not have test tubes to carry out blood tests and it has run out of film for its X-ray machines. At the Sotiria Hospital, doctors are unable to carry out tests for hepatitis, HIV and tuberculosis. At the Ippocrateio Hospital in Thessaloniki, shortages mean that blood tests cannot be conducted. Hospitals on Naxos and in Sparta have encountered similar problems.”

Emergency surgeries have been postponed due to the shortage putting in danger the life of patients.

Why the shortages?

The problem started when the Government  and the Health Ministry decided to tight the spending budget due to economic crisis and the austerity measures imposed by IMF/EU bailout. Cutting spendings in Health means cutting prices in drugs, cutting prices in medical supplies.

But it has often been revealed in the past that producers and importers/suppliers charge even 100% + more when they sell their products in Greece.

When Health Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou decided to reduce the price of  dialysis filters for kidney failure patients the hell broke out.  Xenogiannakopoulou asked the price to be 25 EUR per filter. According to TV reports, suppliers sell the filter for 40 EUR, while in Europe it is sold for 7 EUR.

The DePuy International Ltd bribery case – Artificial Knees for THE GREEK PATIENT

Last April a former boss of a Leeds medical joint makers has been jailed for a conspiracy to bribe Greek doctors to help secure contracts worth millions from their Government.
Robert Dougall, 44, of Fulthorpe Green, Billiingham, former vice president of DePuy International Ltd – formerly Charles F Thackray Ltd – was given a 12-month sentence after admitting a charge of conspiracy to corrupt over almost four years up to December 2005.

Prosecutor John Kelsey-Fry said corruption in the Greek medical supplies sector was “endemic” and “common knowledge” and all but “standard practice” in this market.

Emails from DePuy directors had speculated that 95 per cent of the company’s business would be lost if bribery was stopped.

In the landmark hearing at Southwark Crown Court, DePuy, part of the US multi-national Johnson and Johnson, was said to have paid local agents to give a series of sweeteners to doctors and medical officials to secure the massive deals.

Dougall, paid £95,000 a year, had overseen a “policy” of corruption in which doctors received £4.5m in bribes to secure DePuy £20m in business.
Surgeons were lured into promoting DePuy products with payments ‘in kind’, including expensive holidays.

Dougall is the first British executive prosecuted by the Serious Fraud
Office (SFO) for overseas bribery.

The corruption resulted in orthopaedic supplies prices in Greece soaring to twice the European average. An artificial knee climbing to £4,400, against a European average of £2,200.

The court was told that between 2002 and 2005, DePuy made £4.5m worth of payments to two intermediaries in Greece: brothers Nikos and Christos Karagiannis. They bribed surgeons to recommend DePuy’s products for supply to the Greek national health service.

The bribes were hidden by the company disguised as “professional education”.




Greek Ministers: Deal struck with hospital suppliers – Military Hospitals for THE GREEK PATIENT

Finance minister offers mix of cash and bonds to appease providers and avert dangerous shortages

Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou and Health Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou emerged from a long meeting with state hospital suppliers yesterday, saying that they had reached a preliminary deal to settle state debts using a combination of government bonds and cash with the primary aim of averting a dangerous shortage of medical supplies.

Earlier in the day, doctors had warned that the government’s failure to break an impasse with suppliers could put patients’ lives at risk.

Suppliers demanding their dues had provided only basic provisions to hospitals over the past few days, in an attempt to force the government’s hand on its debts to hospitals. According to Dimitris Varnavas, the president of the Federation of Greek Hospital Doctors’ Unions, hospitals are experiencing shortages of everything from gauzes to pacemakers. The head of the union representing doctors in the capital, Stathis Tsoukalos, said the crisis was the climax of a long-burgeoning predicament. “The problem of hospital supplies has gone on for years but the situation needs to be resolved immediately,” Tsoukalos said.

A meeting between Xenogiannakopoulou and suppliers on Monday had ended in deadlock with the minister accusing the providers of blackmail for freezing deliveries of crucial hospital consumables.

In a related development yesterday, Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos told a press conference that the country’s military hospitals would be able to contribute to the treatment of citizens if state hospitals experience any problems


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