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Major Healthcare Groups Await For Privatization Program

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Major private health groups see a unavoidable and compulsory privatization program for Greek public hospitals, while proposals are already prepared for some of the cases. 

Until now, the Health Ministry hasn’t expressed intention to proceed with privatizations, but to reform the structure of the Greek healthcare system. Minister Andreas Loverdos said on Wednesday that 83 boards would administer 133 hospitals. About 32,000 operating beds would occur from the merger of hospitals, while 500 special beds would be contracted to private insurance companies. 

“We have submitted proposals that could help public healthcare to stand on its feet with better performance and lower operating costs”, said Giorgos Apostolopoulos, president of the Athens Medical Group, adding that 2011 would be the year of reform in the industry. 

Speaking to the shareholders, he said that when the company agreed with Asklepios –the largest health organization in Europe-, “we had in mind that this expertise could help the state and the Greek healthcare system”. 

In this context, he said that there was no official notice from the ministry regarding the takeover bid for Dunant Hospital, asking for a relevant legislation. 

As for GAIA maternity hospital, which burdened Athens Medical with losses last year, Apostolopoulos said that Dunant hospital could balance only through GAIA.

Apostolos Terzopoulos, president of Euromedica, said that the group has declared in the past that it would be interested in possible privatizations and it has expertise, size and versatile activity for such a process. 

He added that as time passes the crisis in the public healthcare system deepens and the private sector will play an increasingly active role. The increase of patients in the public hospitals widens their deficit, Terzopoulos said. He cited that the increase in public hospitals in 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 reached 25-27%, but he believes that it would change soon, because of the healthcare system’s inability to provide appropriate services. 

IASO group has also expressed interest to pursue a role in a possible privatization program, if the terms are clear and in the interest of shareholders.
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