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Greek island doctor shortage

- by Dabs Banner

Retired medics called in to shore up services.

Take care of your health while on a holiday in the Greek Islands. A shocking shortage of doctors and qualified medical staff on the islands has prompted the Greek government to call medics out of retirement.

It comes as more tourists than ever are flocking to holidays on the Greek island, triggering fears that residents and visitors alike may be in danger of not being able to access good medical treatment.

The shortage of medical staff and closure of island clinics and pharmacies has been evident for some time as austerity measure have cut deep into public health services in Greece.

The island of Naxos in the Cyclades is currently the only Greek Island with a qualified paediatrician working for the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY) .

The EOPYY is Greece's state-owned health insurer, providing health cover for the sick since March 2012. Overseas visitors who need to see a doctor or dentist in Greece just go along to a local IKA office with an EHIC card to make an appointment.

But, while millions of tourists are flooding the Greek islands, a shortage of doctors, nurses and technical equipment is proving a big headache. Many holiday visitors end up paying for expensive private consultations

Naxos is the only island in the Cyclades where there is a pediatrician affiliated with EOPYY while gynaecologists, urologists and cardiologists affiliated to EOPYY are very rare even in popular islands such as Ios, Mykonos, Paros and Santorini.

As a result, private practice doctors are snapping up the patients. Now the Greek Ministry of Health plans to enlist retired doctors to staff island clinics as the government pushes through new laws to give them the authority to prescribe medicines.

The ministry also plans to create an emergency task force of doctors, nurses and paramedics to fly into problem areas if they are needed.

The move comes as a major incident was reported at the 5-star hotel Lindos Imperial Resort and Spa on the island of Rhodes. Many hotel guests, mostly Russian and Israeli showed symptoms of dizziness, vomiting and fever.

It is thought that between 50 and 70 hotel guests were affected, including children. Hotel staff advised all sick guests to remain in their rooms but the illness spread to around 400 guests who are being treated in the hotel.

Medics say the symptoms were not life-threatening and that the guests are all recovering. They suspect an airborne virus may be responsible for the outbreak.

A statement to hotel guest by the management said: "We would like to inform you that this unfortunate situation is caused due to an airborne virus disease that this moment exists on the island of Rhodes and to different other hotels also."

Between 2009 and 2011, the public hospital budget in Greece was cut by more than 25% as a part of austerity cuts. Greece now spends less on public health than any of the other pre-2004 European Union member.