Felizmente, o Syriza está no poder e austeridade acabou pelo que nada disto interessa: ‘Patients who should live are dying’: Greece’s public health meltdown
Seven years of austerity have seen hospitals become ‘danger zones’, doctors say, with many fearing worse is to come
Since 2009, per capita spending on public health has been cut by nearly a third – more than €5bn (£4.3bn) – according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. By 2014, public expenditure had fallen to 4.7% of GDP, from a pre-crisis high of 9.9%. More than 25,000 staff have been laid off, with supplies so scarce that hospitals often run out of medicines, gloves, gauze and sheets.
In early December Giannakos, a nurse by training, led a protest march, which started at the grimy building housing the health ministry and ended outside the neoclassical office of the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras. At the ministry, hospital technicians erected a breeze-block wall and from it hung a placard with the words: “The ministry has moved to Brussels.”
Few advanced western economies have enacted fiscal adjustment on the scale of Greece. In the six years since it received the first of three bailouts to keep bankruptcy at bay, the country has enforced draconian belt-tightening in return for more than €300bn in emergency loans. The loss of more than 25% of national output – and a recession that has seen ever more people resorting to primary health care – has compounded the corrosive effects of cuts that in the case of public hospitals have often been as indiscriminate as they are deep.
Pressure to meet creditor-mandated budget targets means that in 2016 alone, expenditure on the sector has declined by €350m under the stewardship of Syriza, the leftist party that had once railed against austerity, said Giannakos, citing government figures.
More than 2.5 million Greeks have been left without any healthcare coverage. Shortages of spare parts are such that scanning machines and other sophisticated diagnostic equipment have become increasingly faulty. Basic blood tests are no longer conducted at most hospitals because laboratory expenditure has been pared back. Wage cuts have worsened the low morale.