Health and Care Services during the Longstanding Financial Crisis in Greece
Introduction: Health services today refer to all services providing medical care, prevention, and overall treatment. In Greece, health service structures consist of the public Greek National Health System, other public services outside the public sector, and a wide range of private sector healthcare services.
Objective: The aim of this critical review is to elaborate on the provision of healthcare services during the decade-longstanding financial crisis in Greece and explore further the factors that influence healthcare provision.
Methods: A scoping literature review was performed on the MEDLINE, CINAHL, and Web of Science databases using terms related to the healthcare system and austerity measures in Greece. Original, peer-reviewed research published from 2000 to 2020, were included in this scoping review.
Results: We identified a total of 37 articles that met our inclusion criteria. Results were further analyzed and critically discussed via five exposed subcategories, i.e. demographic, economic, social, cultural, and epidemiological factors.
Discussion: Greece’s public health system provides free access to low-cost health care for those who contribute to Greek social security, plus their families and retirees. It is also free for those in need of emergency care. Yet, a closer look into the demographic, economic, social, cultural, and epidemiological factors that influence healthcare provision, reveals complex interactions between these elements. Furthermore, Greece’s longstanding economic austerity has impacted considerably on prompt healthcare provision.
Conclusion: This review may help to identify key factors that influenced changes made to our national healthcare system in response to dire economic circumstances and austerity. The current Covid-19 pandemic has revealed significant lessons for the healthcare systems globally as well as in Greece as serious shortcomings in healthcare provision have been exposed. Although Greece does not have a particularly advanced healthcare service, and despite still being in the midst of an economic recession its healthcare system responded relatively well to the pandemic. Yet, more efforts should be made in Greece and elsewhere to enhance health policies and to implement health reforms in order to develop sustainable and more flexible healthcare services for all.