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Doctors emigrating in increasing numbers

Athens Medical Association says almost 7,000 members have left country in past five years

Athens Medical Association estimates that 6,872 Athens doctors have left Greece in the last five years, with emigration picking up in the last 24 months

The Polykliniki hospital, near Omonia Square, which was shut down in August (Enet) The Polykliniki hospital, near Omonia Square, which was shut down in August (Enet) Doctors are emigrating from Greece in increasing numbers, with the Athens Medical Association (ISA) claiming on Wednesday that almost 7,000 have left the capital in the last five years alone.

This was resulting in "scientific dehydration and social bleeding," ISA president Yiorgos Patoulis said.

The current unemployment rate among doctors in the capital was 10.3%, with 2,598 of its 25,163 active members without a job, compared to 12.4% (with 3,147 out of 25,303 registered doctors in Athens out of work) last year.

The ISA attributed the fall in the unemployment rate among the city's doctors to emigration. Without providing a breakdown of how it arrived at the figure, the organisation estimates that 6,872 Athens doctors have left Greece in the last five years, with emigration picking up in the last 24 months.

The destinations of choice for emigrating doctors are the UK, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Belgium, the US, the United Arab Emirates, Norway, Italy, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain and Cyprus.

The country was witnessing "an unprecedented wave of emigration from Greece, not just of unskilled labour, but the most highly skilled: the skilled doctors of our country," the statement pointed out.

Referring to a recent invitation by Turkey's health minister for unemployed Greek physicians to seek work there, the ISA said that immediate changes were required in the management of medical personnel so that doctors are not driven out of the country.

"The state should … stop punishing and impoverishing Greek doctors. Newly qualified doctors find all professional doors shut, while older colleagues, who are the main pillar of the National Health System, have been working unpaid for years in hospitals and clinics. And amid this economic misery for everyone involved in healthcare, the indiscriminate and universal castigation of the medical profession for over-prescribing and over-testing patients continues".

Meanwhile, a patient has died amid chaotic scenes in Evangelismos hospital, one of Athens' largest, where doctors have said the sick are being piled up like "human sacks" on beds and trolleys while waiting to be seen. 

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