The situation at public hospitals (the only one that treat COVID-19 patients), with rough shifts of even 36 hours for exhausted hospital doctors and patients being treated on cots in corridors, has raised a series of issues that must be urgently addressed in order to avert a collapse of Greece’s National Health System (NHS).

The signs of collapse are already evident and one can predict how the situation will evolve, as experts project that the huge pressures on the system will continue in December.

Doctors, professors, and researchers have issued a barrage of warnings in television and newspaper interviews to convey the desperate situation at hospitals and to urge people to be vaccinated and religiously abide by public health restrictions.

University of Thessaloniki Professor of Environmental Mechanics Dimosthenis Sarigiannis told SKAI television that the number of infections confirmed daily (8,600 yesterday) will continue to rise alarmingly for the next 7-8 days, and that the spike in cases will continue in December.

Projection of up to120 deaths daily, 800 intubations by Christmas

“The weekly rolling average of infections was 6,600, and by the beginning of December it will rise to about 9,400. That means we will on one day have over 10,000 infections, with a corresponding increase of intubations and, unfortunately, a rapid rise in the number of deaths,” said Sarigiannis.

He also projected that by mid-December there may be over 800 intubated patients and a peak of 120 deaths in a day by Christmas.

Compulsory vax, more restrictions on unvaccinated people

The director of the Second ICU at the large Papanikolaou Hospital in Thessaloniki, Nikos Kapravelos (photo) , told MEGA television that vaccination should be made compulsory in categories of employees and workers that have immediate contact with the public.

“Compulsory vaccination should be extended to a wide range of human activities and the mobility of the unvaccinated should be extremely limited so that they cannot enter any building. If we do not want to see people being treated in hospital parking lots [as has happened in Romania], there is no other solution,” he underlined.

Belated public health restrictions

Adamantios Chloros, the director of the National Health System’s pulmonary medicine department at Papanikolaou Hospital, told SKAI that the already insufferable situation has worsened and that it is unclear if something more can be done at this point.

“Correct measures are being taken sometimes, but many mistakes have been made, and the measures are taken belatedly, once the harm has been done…I hear that the conscription of doctors is on the table, but that does not mean much,” he said.

Chloros did not rule out the prospect that at some point patients will have to be treated in hospital courtyards.

As regards the government’s plan to bolster the NHS with private doctors, he said that when one proceeds with a conscription of private sector doctors, there is an adjustment period of one to three months, because their work at a hospital will be very different.

“These things should have been done a long time ago, especially restrictions on unvaccinated people,” he said.

Immediate measures needed to prevent collapse of NHS

At Greece’s largest hospital, Evangelismos in Athens, the director of the pulmonary medicine clinic, Yorgos Boulbasakos, warned that measures must be taken immediately to prevent the imminent collapse of the NHS.

“All statistical models are being confirmed and we see that the pressure on the NHS means that we at the verge of a collapse of the system. It will collapse if action is not taken,” he said.

“The first move is to expand compulsory vaccination. We must examine, with the Committee on Bioethics, mandatory vaccination for the entire population of the country. That would be a decisive step, but let us start at least with an expansion of compulsory vaccination,” he said.

Boulbasakos stressed that the NHS must be bolstered in order to avoid a collapse, not with conscriptions, but with the complete and total involvement of the private sector in handling the pandemic.

“We will soon collapse after a two-year pandemic,” he said.

“About 7,000 people [doctors and healthcare workers], who wrongly did not want to be vaccinated [and were suspended without pay], are missing from the health system. Do we have the luxury of not using private health facilities and our worthy colleagues?”