Greek hospitals running out of medicines as worries mount

A pharmacist (R) searches for medicine for a client at a pharmacy at the city of Iraklio in the island of Crete, Greece July 7, 2015. Greece has enough medicine to last three to four months and drugmakers said on Monday that they would continue supplying the country for now, despite increased financial uncertainty after Greeks rejected austerity terms of a bailout

Caroline Crawford in Athens

THE man in charge of Greek hospitals has said they could face a serious problem within a fortnight if a deal with Europe is not reached.

Ioannisi Baskozos, General Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, said without an immediate agreement with Europe struggling Greek hospitals would face a critical situation.

He told the Herald the Syriza government was “discussing all possibilities” for keeping hospitals operating.

“The first problem is the food. The food companies tell us if we can’t get money they will stop providing food for the hospitals, but we are already talking to other Greek suppliers about this.

“The pharmaceutical companies tell us they don’t see a problem for now, but 15 days after I know we will have a problem,” he said.

The Evangelismos hospital in Athens treats thousands of patients a day, but with a dwindling amount of medical supplies staff fear they can only continue to cover basic functions until the end of the month.

The hospital has already been forced to cancel countless out-patient appointments, doctors told the Herald.

The State-run hospital has been facing serious financial problems for months, with budgets cut to the bone.

Basic supplies are already running dangerously low, from disposable sheets to medical swabs and even sutures for stitches.

Dr Georgious, who did not want to give his surname, said vital supplies were now below the critical level.

“We are having difficulty with several materials, it is becoming very bad. Our elderly patients are the worst affected. Already in my clinics we are cancelling many appointments, we do not have the supplies,” he said.

“We are doing what we can, but we fear more operations will be cut and this will cost lives,” he added.

Despite this, staff at the hospital were evenly split on the referendum. A young doctor, who has worked at the hospital for three-and-a-half years, said he believed the result was the correct answer. He began supporting Syriza after witnessing how the austerity measures had impacted the hospital.

“Things have been bad at the hospital for a number of years. The conditions are worse that some third-world countries now. This week we are seeing the worst of it now because Europe has cut off funding. I think this decision by the people will mean a quicker agreement and more justice for Greece.

“The decision was 50/50 here – the older and richer doctors voted ‘Yes’, but there is no tension now. We just want an agreement, if that does not happen things will be critical. We are concerned for our patients, we are anxious and we are afraid,” he said.