Kathimerini Greece Newsroom
Many Greek islands face severe shortages of doctors and nurses and attempts to solve the issue fall afoul of local economies and, in certain cases, government bureaucracy.
In many of the most popular tourist destinations, owners would rather rent short-term to visitors than offer the house to medical professionals. It is not uncommon for the latter to be asked to vacate their rentals as the summer season approaches. And, as a senior National Health System source tells Kathimerini, there are three types of problem islands: those, like tourist havens Mykonos and Santorini, where rents are too high; others, like up-and-coming tourist destination Milos, where one cannot find rooms to rent; and, finally, those small, isolated islands, some of which offer rent-free accommodation, but where doctors are not interested in going. The latter has told central authorities that they should subsidize such positions: The presence of even a general practitioner would cut down on the number of medical airlifts, each of which can cost 25,000 to 30,000 euros.
But even where the state is willing to pay doctors to transfer, temporarily, to island destinations for the summer, other obstacles arise: This summer it was decided to pay National Health System doctors willing to transfer to the islands €1,800 per month beyond their wages and nurses and other medical personnel €1,200. But the Council of State, the country’s top administrative court, says such transfers fall afoul of the rule that no civil servants may be transferred ahead of an election. The caretaker health minister, Anastasia Kotanidou, has petitioned the court to grant an exemption.