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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Deep inequalities and worse health services for the Greeks




The findings of the research by IPSOS Institute, which focused on the last six months with the reforms of the Greek Ministry of Health still taking place, are 'a slap in the face' of Mr. Adonis Georgiadis (Greek Minster of Health).

The research was presented by Ms Tina Tripsa, head of IPSOS in Greece, at the conference of the Financial Times, which was held in collaboration with the Greek Society of Health Services Administration and Boussias Communications. The main theme of the conference was the economic crisis and its impact on Health. The basic conclusion is the existence of deep inequalities among Greek citizens regarding their access to health services and the increase of the private expenditure of patients for their medical treatment.

The survey was conducted during March in Athens, in Thessaloniki and in various other Greek cities, through telephone and face-to-face interviews. 624 Greek citizens took part, aged from 25 to 70 years, who have used health services in the last six months, either for themselves or for their children, while 40% of the cases involved chronically ill patients. 308 doctors from the NHS, EOPYY and the private sector participated in the survey as well.

According to this research, it seems that those who have been hit the most are the chronically ill. 71% of the patients who have lost their public medical insurance rights while on long term treatment, will not be able to go on with their treatment without having to pay for it in its entirety, according to the doctors' estimates. Doctors consider that 29% of them could continue their treatment if they turn to voluntary social services such as community clinics. However, 44% of the chronically ill who have lost their insurance are estimated to have their treatment already interrupted.

When asked "Have recent developments in the public health sector affected your ability to follow your normal treatment -and if so, in what way?" 4 out of 10 patients with chronic and rare illnesses have answered "Yes".

40% continue with the treatment, however they have to pay for their visits to the doctor.

26% missed certain doses.

25% had to pay out of their own pockets for medicines and medical tests.

24% stopped taking accompanying drugs.

20% discontinued the therapy for a certain period of time.

As a result, in 33% of these patients there is disease progression, 11% relapse and 14% show symptoms due to the discontinuation of the accompanying drugs.

Compared to the period before the crisis, 56% say that today their family pays more for health services, and 1 in 3 families “cut” from their diet in order to cope with this increase in private expenditure.

During the last six months, the overwhelming majority of Greeks had to pay extra for medicines or doctor visits, while doctors and patients alike found that the quality of public health services today are worse than the pre-crisis period  and that the recent measures of A. Georgiadis do not promote equal and fair access to the public health system. Specifically, 73% of the citizens and 81% of the doctors find the health services provided today worse, and 82% of the citizens and 78% of the doctors consider that the recent measures do not improve access.

This is the depiction of the situation experienced by Greek citizens in a health system rundown by austerity policies. As Ms Tripsa noted in her presentation, equality in Health is a constitutional right, while the creation or preservation of inequalities is due to the policies followed.

However, Mr. Georgiadis in his speech at the same conference, praised once again those who are ministers "during the memorandum era" and argued that "the real heroes of the times are the ones that keep Greece standing -and we did so by saying 'yes' and not by various trifle such as the 'heroic no' and the blackmail of Europe and the like"... As for the claim that the whole world recognizes the progress of the country besides the Greek journalists, the numbers of yet another research seem to refute him.




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