What commitments did Vassilis Kikilias make for recruitment and ICU? What does OENGE point out in a memorandum to the Ministry of Health? How much was the NSS shielded during the first phase of the pandemic?
The first phase of the corona pandemic is completed with the removal of the quarantine. It started with applause from the balconies and words about heroes in white and green T-shirts.
A few hours before the quarantine was lifted, the government, according to him Vassilis Kikilias undertakes specific commitments:
Commitments to recruitment and permanence
Permanent to be permanent in the NSS of all auxiliary (s.s. contracted) nurses estimated at about 2,000 today. While 942 permanent doctors are in the final recruitment stage.
The above recruitments are included in the total recruitments that were approved during the first phase of the pandemic and according to the Ministry of Health, they exceeded 4000 in medical, nursing, etc. staff.
The target for 12 ICU beds per 100,000 citizens
In the second big issue, the Intensive Care Units, the target of the Ministry of Health is the 1200 beds.
According to Vassilis Kikilias, the government’s strategy is “to reach for the first time, as a country, the European average, which is 12 ICU beds for 100,000 citizens.”
There are currently 1,017 beds in 840 NSS hospitals, 145 in private clinics and 32 in military hospitals.
Of these, 352 are COVID-19 corona beds, of which 349 are in NSS hospitals and 67 are Intensive Care Units (ICUs) which have been upgraded to ICUs, according to what Kikilias said in an interview with Kathimerini.
He pledged the immediate construction of new ICUs and the functional reform of existing ones, in a number of hospitals, such as KAT, “Evangelismos”, “Sotiria”, “Papanikolaou” and the Universities of Patras, Heraklion and Larissa.
According to the Ministry of Health, the total number of ICUs has almost doubled, as at the beginning of the pandemic there were 565 beds.
From the numbers given by the government, the NSS appears to be strengthened.
The real needs of the NSS
However, the picture is different for the correspondence of these numbers in practice and how well-armed the NSS is in the face of a new wave of pandemic.
According to OENGE, before the pandemic, the number of vacancies for doctors was 6,500, for nurses about 30,000, and the required number of ICU and MAF beds was 3,500 in total.
This means that despite the steps taken by the government and for which it is committed, they are lagging behind those required by NSS employees in order for the public health system to be considered adequately shielded, especially in the face of a second wave of pandemic.
Cuts up to 400 euros on duty
In fact, in her memorandum to the leadership of the Ministry of Health On April 28, OENGE talks about shortages that force doctors to make an exhaustive number of shifts “which are even paid late but also cuts that reach 300 to 400 euros per month due to exceeding the ceiling”.
At the same time, there is talk of “tragic shortages even in basic specialities” in Primary Health Care.
According to the OENGE memorandum, there are some indicative examples that “are enough to convince even the most sceptical”.
At Thriasio Hospital, which is a reference hospital, a single pulmonologist on active duty is in charge of 55-65 patients who are hospitalized scattered on three floors and five clinics.
In the Red Cross, in the last two months alone (March-April), there has been a 27% increase in the number of on-call services.
The ICU beds that were developed, were staffed with auxiliary staff, ie employees with an expiration date and with travel from other departments and clinics.
Among other things, it is pointed out that “even during the epidemic, the dismissals of auxiliary doctors and other workers continue, while the epidemic is used to continue the stay and the return of contractors to public health units instead of permanently rescuing all workers with flexible working hours.” relations (auxiliary, through OAED and EODY, with fixed-term contracts).
There are also shortages of personal protective equipment, especially high protection masks (FFP2, FFP3).
There are complaints from colleagues, nationwide, about masks that are distributed to them, without complying with the necessary specifications.
More than a hundred health workers have already fallen ill and at least four hundred and fifty have been quarantined.
Most public health units do not have occupational physicians and safety technicians, and Infection Committees are understaffed and unable to meet today’s increased needs.”
Risk of mortality due to hypothermia of other diseases
For its part, OENGE points out something else that it had highlighted with the open letter it had sent to the prime minister.
According to her letter to the Ministry of Health, “the risk of increased morbidity and mortality due to the under-treatment of patients with other health problems is visible.
The suspension of the regular operation of the hospitals has led to the decommissioning of dozens of departments that are not directly related to the diagnosis and treatment of patients with COVID-19.
Hundreds of planned surgeries have been postponed, delays in treatment for cancer patients.
The slogan “we stay home” without the necessary support has already led to a delayed diagnosis of even acute cardiovascular events.
It is inconceivable that the public health system could not combine the control and treatment of patients with coronary heart disease with the treatment of patients with other diseases.
Once again, we highlight the problem of patients with mild symptoms who recover at home without any medical monitoring and evaluation. But also of patients with chronic diseases who were left without medical supervision with consequences for their health.
There is an urgent need to open design departments, clinics, laboratories and surgeries whose operation has been suspended, starting with hospitals and Health Centers that are not referenced centres for COVID-19.
A prerequisite for safe operation is the return of all staff who have moved and the recruitment of all necessary permanent staff for the operation of hospitals and Health Centers.
Conducting a test
Another critical issue raised by hospital doctors for the safe re-operation of clinics is the testing of all patients, regardless of the reason for their admission to the hospital, as well as the entire healthcare staff, in order to avoid in-hospital dispersal.
Equally serious is the issue of extensive detection, tracking and isolation of cases through mass testing, as recommended by the WHO, something we have been insisting on from the outset.
“We prioritize the staff of all, without exception, the health and welfare units, the guests in structures (chronically ill, refugees-immigrants, welfare, nursing homes, etc.) in workplaces where there is congestion, in vulnerable groups” underlines OENGE.
Austerity weakened the NSS
It is worth noting that the recent Amnesty International report on the state of the public health system has largely adopted what the NSS workers have argued for its degradation and understaffing.
The pandemic of corona, which also affects Greece, reveals how the long-term recession and austerity measures have weakened the country’s health system, was the conclusion of Amnesty International.
An exhibition entitled “Resurrection Now: The Greek healthcare system after a decade of austerity “captures how serious cuts since 2010 have made accessible and economical health care impossible for many people.
In this light, any government commitments show that any steps taken are still inadequate and that holding the first wave of the pandemic is not due to the effectiveness of the NSS but mainly to quarantine and social distancing that did not create Lombard scenes in understaffed and degraded by governments and austerity policies health system.
The question that remains is whether the lessons have finally been fully assimilated by the government so as not to become a nuisance for society in the event of a second wave of the pandemic.