Hundreds of public hospital sector employees rallied through all Athens hospitals and ended up protesting outside the health ministry on Thursday.
In the rally called “Caravan of Health,” doctors, nurses and other public hospital employees protested against the state of disintegration of the National Health System (ESY) and the sad state of public hospitals.
The “Caravan of Health” started at 7 a.m. at the National Emergency Aid Center (EKAV). Demonstrators carried placards with bloody surgical gloves and even employed two horse carriages dressed as ambulances, criticizing the speed of the system.
Then the rally took a route passing through all Athens public hospitals and culminated outside the health ministry in central Athens. There the health workers shouted slogans against the health ministers and the government.
Parallel to the rally, the public hospital employees union (POEDIN) issued an official statement expressing dissatisfaction with the state of public health and the fact that the government has abandoned ESY. Furthermore, the statement disputes a government promise that part of the money received from the recent television license auction will go to the health system.
In September, the statement continues, the prime minister promised 10,000 hirings in public hospitals, but later they announced only 950 positions that had been approved by the previous government, then they hired only 500, POEDIN says.
The statement further says that “during the Tsipras administration, public hospitals lost 7,695 employees, and a total of 20,000 during the economic crisis.” At the same time, the statement says, this year public hospitals received 350,000 million euros less than in 2015. Also, public hospitals are to receive a total 1,156 billion euros in 2016 while their outstanding debts are 1.5 billion euros.