Health system crisis: about 3,000 children waiting for surgery for years

While the Ministry of Health is trying to solve the problem with the shortage of anesthesiologists, thousands of children in the children’s hospital of Hagia Sophia (Νοσοκομείο Παίδων “Η Αγία Σοφία”) continue to wait for a life-saving operation.

This is the harsh reality of one of the largest children’s hospitals in Europe and, in particular, in Greece. The problem with the “waiting list” is not new; the queue for surgical interventions has existed for at least four years. In 2018, there were about 2,800 children on the waiting list for surgery.

Prior to the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of children in need of surgery had dropped to 2,400 children (the registry was “cleaned up” only because at that time only emergency surgical interventions were performed).

Fast-forward to the present day, when the problem has once again caught everyone’s attention. The number of children on the waiting list has now reached 3,000 and continues to rise as scheduled surgeries have been “frozen” since 1 September.

Largely these are children with chronic severe diseases who are about to undergo surgery, as well as children who need minor medical interventions, but due to the lack of anesthesiologists in the hospital, they are still waiting for their turn.

Basic the problem is the shortage of anesthesiologists in the pediatric departmentwhich, although it has 17 established positions, currently has only nine. A series of resignations, retirements and layoffs has left vacancies unfilled.

In fact, since anesthesiologists in children’s hospitals are different from anesthesiologists in other hospitals in that they must have additional specializations, this makes it even more difficult to find more doctors with this specialization.

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