The 4,500 doctors working for Greece’s main public healthcare provider, EOPYY, will be given the option of taking up jobs at state hospitals or having their contracts terminated, helping the government meet its targets for the civil service mobility scheme and dismissals, Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis said on Tuesday.
Speaking during a visit to Brussels, Georgiadis said that doctors would be given the straight choice of being employed full-time at public hospitals or having their agreements with EOPYY torn up, allowing them to continue with just their private practices if they so wish.
“We are not firing people,” said Georgiadis. “We are giving all the doctors the option of joining the National Health System if they wish. Any doctor that wants to can join primary healthcare. Whoever does not want to will choose the option of having their contract canceled.”
Greece has to fire 4,000 civil servants by the end of this year and place 25,000 others in the mobility scheme. Georgiadis suggested that changes to primary healthcare would lead to these targets being attainable.
EOPYY doctors have been on strike since last month and decided on Tuesday to extend their action until December 19 over plans to reduce staff numbers. “It is not possible for the minister’s planning to start and end with the number of doctors that are going to be fired,” said their union, POSEYP-EOPYY. Unionists, however, said if Georgiadis is willing to start negotiations with them without any preconditions, they would call off their strike.
This seems highly unlikely, though, as Georgiadis stated clearly that he believes the framework provided by Greece’s bailout agreement is correct.
“The memorandum was absolutely necessary,” he said. “It foresees the minimum reforms that the country needs. In fact, the memorandum’s schedule is very slow. We should be going faster.”