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If politicians were willing to cope with bribes, they would do it in a day

12 March 2012 / 18:03:14  GRReporter
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- Look, what you are saying applies to the central government and the central government itself has signed the memorandum, but does not implement it. It should explain this to those with which it signed it but also to the Greek people. Because if you say to the Greek people, "We will take this road, it will be hard but it will bring hope, optimism and faith in tomorrow", the people will adapt, will assimilate it, will go this way and always with the rule of the law. What angered the Greeks the most is that some, quite a few, have exported millions of euro to Switzerland. These are the ones, who were managing  the property of the Greek people in one way or another and at this point, none of the representatives of the big capital are paying as they should, but cuts of salaries and pensions are required and this is repeated by violent means. The Greek people could do anything if things were planned, organized, happened in a fair state under the rule of law. It has lived through much worse times, has survived wars, occupations, hunger, misery, and yet it has managed to become a worthy member of Europe, relying on its great history. And now, it is willing the central government and politicians to do what our country's history demands.

- You are the Chairman of the Medical Association and the health care system is like a deep swamp, where many changes are needed. The Greek state spends big money on health care and the system does not offer the relevant services. Why is that?

- The problem is that the health care system has been cast adrift for many years. Our national health care system was the fifth in quality in the world five years ago and it has suddenly collapsed. Today, a person without health insurance cannot reach the national health system; the unemployed cannot be treated there. They have to pay, but how can they since they are uninsured or unemployed. There is no answer. That is why the Medical Association in Athens along with the Archdiocese and its non-profit organization called Mission have established a social hospital. Over 300 patients were examined during the first 20 days of its operation. There is a social pharmacy close to it to give free medicines and examination is free too, of course. It is certain that a lot should happen from now on in terms of drugs and medical treatment. And in particular the following policy should be pursued - that health does not start from treating the patient but from preserving the good health of the patient, which is called prevention, because if we build better prevention throughout the country, for all population groups, we will not need so much medicine and medical care. Therefore, I raise the bar high as I think we should approach the issues of prevention with the necessary organization. Our Medical Association as a defender of public health is interfering in these matters, pressing the Ministry of Health and of course, we do not believe that the reduction of funds, which should be implemented through a rationalization, should lead to lower quality of the health care services. Reduction of funds does not mean lower quality; it means rationality. Let's cut wastefulness through central transparent competitions to prevent some from making money at the expense of the Greek people.

- In health care, we see many phenomena related to corruption, the well-known bribe. What is the solution to this problem in your opinion?

- I believe and I am saying very clearly that if ministers were willing to cope with bribes, it could happen in a day. If they vote a law saying, "Those who take a bribe will lose medical rights and the right to practice." Strict laws, which the management of hospitals, which are subordinated to the Minister of Health, could implement through various internal policies. However, the bribe has "developed", so to speak, has grown in the 1990s and 2000s, because it provided additional funds to doctors because their wages are low compared to their European counterparts. So, we have come to the point at which one cannot come to the health care system if he or she does not give something under the table, a bribe to the doctor. It has become part of people's consciousness. However, we believe that the health care system and doctors provide many important services. If you go to a hospital dispensary, you will find that there is a great shortage of medical personnel today, and this leads to deterioration of the services provided to citizens. Hospital doctors in the national health care system are around 10,000 and they are constantly decreasing because they retire and there have been no new appointments for many years. And as made clear by signing the new memorandum, this will continue for a long time, whatever the consequences for the quality of health care after 1-2 years. Salaries are low. A doctor, who is on duty, may take 1,500 euro provided that he or she should continuously follow the developments in their field. And of course, I will tell you that there will be more cuts to the alignment of salaries, in the range of 20 to 30%. This means that a hospital doctor could take about 1,000 euro a month.

Tags: George PatoulisMaroussi municipalityMedical AssociationBribesCorruptionReformsElections
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