“All necessary moves have been made to ensure that the first installments of the budget approved for the two university hospitals -- Aretaeio and Eginitio -- will be available and that their operating costs will be reduced. The approval of the 2011 budget will soon be published in the Government Gazette,” a ministry of education statement underlined on Monday in response to a decision reached by the hospital boards to suspend the institutions’ operation.

A request for the payment of back salaries (Jan.-April 2011) has also been made to the General Accounting Office that corresponds to 28 pct of the budget approved for the two hospitals, according to the ministry of education.

The boards of Aretaeio and Eginitio Hospitals had decided in a meeting on April 7, held in the presence of the university authorities and the chairman of the Medical School, to suspend their full operation while continuing the operation of the outpatient clinics, citing lack of funds that led to shortages in pharmaceuticals and hospital material.

According to an announcement issued after the meeting, the decision was reached because “the safe hospitalization of patients is at risk,” clarifying that the hospital staff will treat only emergencies.

Speaking to a private radio in Athens, a representative of Eginitio Hospital Staff Union stressed that the hospital was forced to suspend its operation to avoid putting the health of the Greek people at risk, adding that the operation of the Medical School is also at risk considering that 80 pct of all medical students are trained there.

Commenting on the developments, Communist Party (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Monday stated from Brussels that “the suspension of the operation of the two very important highly specialized university hospitals sets off an alarm for the people” and warned that in the next few months, the situation will be even worse.

Papariga is in Brussels for the pan-European meeting of communist and labour parties.