Primary care is where Greek health services most often fail in the eyes of Greeks insured with the state health system, with many finding they are forced to go privately because they are unable to get an appointment with the doctor or specialist they need through the Primary National Health Network (PEDY) and the state-run healthcare services provider EOPYY.
The ‘ceiling’ of 200 visits a month imposed on EOPYY contracted doctors and the lack of specialists working for EOPYY due to understaffing, as well as the delays in getting the new “family doctor” and “neighbourhood unit” programmes off the ground, mean that many are having to resort to hospital out-patient clinics or pay out of their own pockets for access to a doctor.
Based on the findings of an Alco poll commissioned by the Union of EOPYY doctors, 44 pct of patients are “somewhat to very” satisfied with their doctors but 24 pct are only a little satisifed and 19 pct are “not at all satisfied”. A further 44 pct were unaware how the system with the 200 free visits works, while 24 pct did not know about the patient’s share in the cost of medical actions.
Only 18 pct are ‘somewhat or very satisfied’ with the Primary National Health Network (PEDY) services to which EOPYY belongs.
The survey showed that 48 pct of those with state health insurance visited EOPYY doctors, 30 pct visited hospital out-patient clinics, 18 pct visited PEDY units and 23 pct preferred other healthcare structures in the private sector.
EOPYY doctors were also very dissatisfied with the functioning of primary care, citing long delays in payment and inadequate coverage of many areas by specialists, including 10 prefectures that lacked GPs, 19 without paediatricians and five without pathologists.
The health ministry is now in the process of planning a new primary care system that, according to the health ministry’s alternate general secretary Stamatis Vardaros, will strive for full coverage of health needs, equal access to services and financial protection of citizens. At its core will be the local units and health centres and each area’s PEDY units. In addition to new hiring and internal transfers where necessary, the new system will be complemented with EOPYY contracted doctors, with contracts opened to new doctors on the basis of health service needs.