On 26th February, a few hours after the announcement of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the country, all the regular leaves of absence of NHS staff in hospitals, primary health care structures and all health facilities in the country were suspended and revoked by order of the Minister of Health. Procedures for the recruitment of additional staff were also initiated on the same day. In addition, scheduled leaves of absence of staff at the National Centre for Emergency Care, regional clinics, health centers and all local health-related facilities were suspended as of the same day.
Between March 2020 and February 2021, the Greek Healthcare System has been strengthened with more than 7,500 new recruitments (short-term contracts) of medical, nursing, paramedical and other staff, far exceeding the initial plan for 2,000 recruitments. Furthermore, the Ministry of Health announced openings for 1,423 permanent doctors’ posts in 3 stages:
- February 2020: 942 positions for doctors of various specialties, for all the hospitals of the country;
- July 2020: 81 positions for doctors of various specialties, for the islands and the remote areas;
- September 2020: 400 positions, of which 200 are for intensive care specialists and others for various other specialties.
The government is preparing a package of measures that will provide incentives for doctors to fill the position openings which are currently vacant. Furthermore, a call for 1,209 nursing (and other) staff positions has been announced by the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection, applications for which were under consideration in February 2021.
Since March 23, over 10 thousand volunteers have applied through the digital platform (https://ethelontes.gov.gr), created by the Ministry of Health, to offer their services in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. It is a voluntary program aimed at people who can provide assistance, such as doctors, nurses, paramedics, psychologists, medical students, but also retirees from the health sector. Anyone who wishes to contribute to this effort can also participate by providing administrative, technical and any other support to the health system regardless of their qualifications. Volunteers register by filling in a registration form. Upon selection, depending on the position for which they are chosen, they receive intensive training from the head of service or unit they join and start working as soon as possible.
Legislation enacted on April 13, provides for the employment of private physicians in public hospitals to deal with emergencies for up to 2 months with the possibility of extending the cooperation for another 2 months.