Public-private partnerships high on reform agenda of incoming health minister

Incoming Health Minister Thanos Plevris has hit the ground running in an effort to implement planned healthcare reforms that were long postponed due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

The government touted a list of reforms during the public health crisis, a number of which triggered a strong backlash from main opposition SYRIZA, particularly the determination to go ahead with public-private partnerships between hospitals, which the opposition views as a plan to downgrade the National Health System to the benefit of the private sector.

That cooperation has effectively already begun, however, as private hospitals were marshalled to treat non-COVID patients when public hospitals were hugely overburdened by the enormous weight of single-handedly managing the raging pandemic. Hospitals in northern Greece especially came to the brink of collapse.

Plevris, a lawyer who has a PhD in health law, is conducting an exhaustive review of public health finances.

As legal advisor to former health minister Adonis Georgiadis, Plevris drafted plans for radical reforms which included a broad cooperation between the National Health System and private sector health facilities, which are to play a supplementary but decisive role in the current overall reform plan. Both ministers are in the right wing of the ruling conservative party.

The government believes that the public-private cooperation necessitated by the pandemic has laid the groundwork and may be expanded without a serious public backlash.

Some private hospitals, such as the large Henry Dunant Hospital Centre, agreed to take on shifts of public hospitals by treating non-COVID patients, and some doctors from that hospital and others agreed to serve at public hospitals in northern Greece, which were at...

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