THE opens the Health folder. In the last 15 years, the economic crisis and the pandemic have enlarged the gaps and multiplied the problems. The intensive care units may have doubled due to covid, but the shortages in personnel and logistical infrastructure are still causing major arrhythmias in the daily operation of hospitals, suffering citizens.

“I’ve been waiting 4 years to have surgery”

Terezina Bardi has been waiting for blades to be removed from her leg for 4 years. She has been on the KAT surgery list since April 8, 2019.

“I live on painkillers and they tell me to be patient. How much patience? “, she says.

She is one of thousands of patients who wait months, some even years, to be operated on at a public hospital, and no one knows for sure how many people are on the waiting list, as operating theater lists are not updated and include people who have already does an operation.

6 months waiting for heart surgery

6 month waiting list for heart surgery due to coronary heart disease with 3 blocked arteries.

3,000 children are waiting to be operated on – Closed surgeries

To the same fate and the children. There are almost 3,000 children on the list of Agia Sophia alone.

“I personally have children who have been waiting since 2018 and 2019 to be operated on,” says Pediatric Surgeon “Agia Sophia”.

And this is due to the lack of nursing staff and anesthetists, which keeps a large part of the operating theaters in public hospitals closed.

For example, half of the 14 operating theaters in Attikon are not working. 4 out of 11 theaters in Nice, 7 out of 12 in Hippocrate in Thessaloniki and 6 out of 10 in AHEPA are closed.

Closed surgeries in detail

  • Atticon 7 of 14
  • Nice 4 out of 11
  • Hippocrates of Thessaloniki 7 of 12
  • AHEPA 6 out of 10

In Aglaia Kyriakou, for example, there are 10 renovated operating rooms. Of these, according to the employees, 6 are fully equipped, while due to lack of staff only 3 are operating. As they inform us, the waiting list for an otolaryngological case is from 6 months to 2 years.


  • 10 operating rooms
  • 6 equipped
  • 3 are working

According to the Ministry of Health, the average waiting time for surgery in Evangelismos is 8 days from 29 in 2019, it has fallen to 25 in Sismanoglio, while in Agios Savvas it has climbed to 32 days from 25 in 2019.

Average waiting time for surgeries

3/2023 2019

  • Evangelism 8 29
  • Sismanoglio 25 37
  • Agios Savvas 32 25

“I’ve been waiting 11 hours in the emergency room”

“I’ve been here since 2 o’clock and I haven’t been seen by a doctor and they tell me it’s 12 o’clock at night even if…”, reports a patient.

And yet 11 hours later the patient still hasn’t been examined.

In the emergency room of Hippocrate, the guard’s question about whose turn it is raises a storm of indignant reactions.

And in the vigil of the Evangelism, the same image. Dozens of patients along with their attendants are even standing up waiting to be examined in the cardiology department. Others wait their turn on stretchers in the hallway.

Emergency departments are swamped.

18 hours for a bed

“Long delays in finding a bed or ranch that can reach 18 or more hours after the on-call service closes. The average number of rants after each general duty varies from 25 to 35 sometimes and 40 rants”, states the nurse of the GNA “Gennimatas”

The picture is better in the other large hospitals, where with targeted interventions and the transfer of patients to private infirmaries and smaller hospitals, ranches have been significantly reduced. In Evangelismos they have almost disappeared, while in Atticon they have decreased by 97%.

Radius reduction


22/1 58
15/3 4


18/1 122
19/3 25

More than 5,200 doctors are missing

The biggest problem of public hospitals is the lack of staff. According to the most conservative estimates of the workers, there is currently a shortage of at least 5,200 doctors.

“Our cardiologist is in two hospitals and goes from the general on-call of one hospital to the general on-call of the other,” reports the Director of Children’s Cardiology “Agia Sophia”, Sofia Nikolopoulou.

25,000 nurses and other staff are missing

At least another 25,000 people are estimated to be missing in all other specialties from nurses and paramedics to technologists and administrative staff. And all this despite the fact that 7,000 more people serve in the National Social Security System today than in 2019.

2023 107,676
2019 100,308

According to the workers, the staff shortage is so great that the average time a nurse can spend on a patient shift is only 8 minutes.

“One or two nurses with 40 patients at night alone in the pathology clinic together with the ranches”, notes the President of Workers at the People’s Hospital, Tasos Antonopoulos.

Recruitment from 2019: 17,000 permanent and auxiliary staff

The 17,000 recruitments of permanent and auxiliary staff that have been made from 2019 to date are not enough, as the NHS is constantly being drained by retirements and departures.

“Old workers with 15 and 20 years are leaving to find decent working conditions even with less money” says a nurse from the People’s Hospital

37-year-old angiographer

Aging equipment is also an important brake. This is the only angiographer for children in a public hospital in Athens. Its age is now ancient and the doctors have been waiting for 5 years for it to be replaced, as they have been promised.

“It is from 1986. At the time of catheterization, it stops, a light goes out, we cannot continue, very serious incidents, dangerous to continue. It has happened many times,” says Ms. Nikolopoulou.

Machine broke.. Stopped surgery

The laparoscopic tower of Agia Sophia is correspondingly obsolete.

“We’ve had him since I was here as an intern 20 years ago. It has happened to me that an operation has stopped because the camera is not showing and the vision has stopped”, reports the “Agia Sophia” Pediatric Surgeon, Angeliki Krikri.

Laiko is a typical case. A first-line hospital with university clinics, 600 beds and daily surgeries but never had an MRI scanner. Patients who need an MRI are sent from Laiko to other public hospitals or are forced to go to the private sector on their own. And it is not the only lack.

“Is it possible for a portable imaging machine that our doctors are arguing in quotes about which operating table to do the imaging on? “, emphasizes the President of the People’s Hospital Workers, Tasos Antonopoulos.

Inadequate building infrastructure

The icing on the cake is the building and hotel infrastructure in the hospitals, mainly in Athens and Thessaloniki.

“In the era of the 21st century, there should be 6-bed rooms. The KAT we work with has really been maintained since it was created. In other words, we are talking 50 years now”, says Professor of Orthopedics, EKPA, Spyros Pneumatikos

“Suffice it to say that the Aretaiio hospital was built in the 19th century. + We need a strategic planning over the course of a decade for these old hospitals that are no longer suitable, either to replace them with new ones or to do a radical renovation”, said Mr. Professor of Medicine EKPA, Yiannis Toundas.

In order for the health system to meet the needs of the Greek people, it requires a radical reform with the agreement of all parties and long-term planning.