The national union federations for doctors and nurses, OENGE and POEDHN, respectively, have declared a nationwide 24-hour strike of all medical personnel on Wednesday. The strike is being held to put pressure on the government to withdraw a bill merging hospitals and abolishing welfare units.
Hospitals, health centres, the ambulance service and welfare services will operate with a skeleton staff, while the unions have organised a rally outside the health ministry at noon on Wednesday.
The nurses union POEDHN said the plan unveiled by the government made the national health system smaller, while undermining and further privatising it, while not addressing shortcomings such as the lack of biomedical technology, a poor primary care system, lack of beds in intensive care and others.
Both doctors and nurses stress that the ministry has failed to take necessary action to improve the system or to hire essential staff, even though 20,000 people have left and gone into retirement in the last two years. Instead, it was abolishing working rights and trying to cover needs by moving an "overworked and underpaid staff" between the linked hospitals, they added.
They also stressed that in the current time of crisis, when the demands on the health and welfare system were constantly increasing, the minister's obligation was to make improvements.