European Union of Private Hospitals

Restarting the activity after the lockdown

MAY 2020 – Interview to Grigoris Sarafianos, President of the Panhellenic Union of Private Hospitals

How has the private healthcare sector been affected by the pandemic in Greece?
The private sector operated in unprecedented conditions during the months of the pandemic
On the one hand, the Ministry of Health had agreed not to treat COVID 19 patients in private hospitals, and on the other hand, it had to take measures to deal with cases that would occur in private hospitals.
This meant a change in the way we operate, increased security measures for patients, relatives, working doctors, nursing and administrative staff as well as for our partners.

The drop in turnover for the months of March, April, May 2020 was 70-80% due to the ban on regular surgeries, the operation of outpatient clinics and the conduct of diagnostic tests and the fear of citizens entering health facilities due to fear of the virus.

Even pathological hospitalizations were drastically reduced due to the need to perform tests for COVID 19 before their introduction, which had to be covered by private payment.
As a result, the number of patients admitted to the Psychiatric Clinics has decreased, for the same reasons. The implementation of dialysis in the Artificial Kidney Units of Private Hospitals remained unaffected but with increased operating costs.
Today we are facing the problem of the survival of our health units. In collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, we have taken some measures to financially support the Private Hospitals, but it is uncertain whether they are sufficient to continue the operation of all.

How has the private healthcare sector in your country been included into the national emergency plan to face the epidemic?
The Ministry of Health’s plan from the outset was to treat COVID patients in state hospitals and non-COVID patients in private hospitals.
At the same time, with a decision of the Government, the Private Hospitals were ordered for the needs of the health system for fear of a sudden escalation of the cases and in agreement with the Ministry we offered the beds of the Private Intensive Care Units at the disposal of the Ministry.
This meant increased operating costs of Private Hospitals, increased vigilance and permission from patients in Private Hospitals due to the satisfactory management of cases by State Hospitals thanks to Lock down.
This leads to a negative economic result for the Private Sector.
Today we will be called to participate in the plans for dealing with a possible second case next October.

What will remain after the crisis for the private healthcare sector?
We continue our operation, which was not interrupted for a single day and from 11/5 it was allowed to carry out 50%, compared to 2019, of regular surgeries, outpatient clinics and diagnostic laboratories.
However, the attendance is not the expected one due to the phobia of our fellow citizens to enter health care facilities for fear of transmitting the virus.
We believe that in order to return to the pre-COVID era, there will be a transitional period of a few months, provided that the number of cases decreases continuously and that a second wave does not occur in September.