Doctor with an appetite to deal with malnutrition problem in Greece
“To have a change in our hospital situation, we need to have a change in our economic situation and to change that we need to change our politicians,” he said.
“I’m not very optimistic. We seem to vote for the same people who brought us here. I wish I was living in Iceland. They didn’t pay for the banks. They tried to look after their people.”
Dr Chourdakis acknowledges that many Greek doctors have paid their part in bringing Greece to its knees.
In his incendiary essay in Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis pointed out that two-thirds of Greek doctors reported incomes of less than €12,000 a year. “If the law was enforced,” one tax collector told him, “every doctor in Greece would be in jail.”
Dr Chourdakis says the criticism does not extend to all Greek doctors. If doctors evade tax, they are behaving unfairly, he said, “but it is not only happening among doctors. Unfortunately, it is a state of mind in Greece. The more you steal from the tax system, the wiser you are. We don’t have strong solidarity in our educational system or in our way of life.
“One of the main problems before the crisis was that, in many hospitals in the public and private sectors, enough doctors were bribed by the patients to get them higher on the surgery list. If they used a certain product, they got a percentage of the product even if it was not the right drug for the patient,” he said.
Dr Chourdakis is not tempted to emigrate at the moment. “If we all go abroad, who’s going to stay here?”
The IrSPEN 2013 conference takes place at the Clyde Court Hotel in Dublin on March 5th and 6th. irspen.ie
The cost of malnutrition
Malnutrition among ill people is a huge cost to health services.
According to the latest figures published in the Journal of Public Health Nutrition, malnourished patients cost the State €1.4 billion a year. The cost across Europe is €170 billion.
Sick people are less likely to eat and are, therefore, more prone to infection. They are 65 per cent more likely to need a GP and their stay is an average of 30 per cent longer.
Nutritionist Niamh Rice said “significant savings” could be made if patients were screened for malnutrition upon entering hospital. She said malnutrition was something that could be dealt with easily by hospital staff.