Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the occasion of International Nurses Day, thanked nursing staff on behalf of the Greek government and the Greek people for their valuable work during the pandemic. "You saved lives and cared for our compatriots in need with self-sacrifice and quality," said Mitsotakis.
His comments were made during a video conference with the heads of the nursing departments at 12 coronavirus referral hospitals throughout the country.
"Taking into consideration that today is International Nurses Day, I want to give a huge thank you for everything you have done, to all of you that were on the frontline against this unprecedented health crisis," he added.
He said that the government had from its first moment in power been aware that one of the major and chronic shortages faced by the National Health System was the number of nursing staff. "We were aware that we ranked in the last positions in Europe for the number of nursing staff per citizen, based on the population. The coronavirus crisis was an opportunity to rapidly increase the nursing staff throughout the country but we fully acknowledge that we are not yet where we want to be," he added.
Mitsotakis noted that the hiring during the last few months had returned the number of nursing staff to the same level as before the economic crisis, reversing a long declining trend. The government's target is to further reinforce the health services with additional staff, as well as improving working conditions so as to improve the services offered.
On their part, the nurses thanked Mitsotakis and the government for the support given to them during this crucial period in terms of personnel and personal protection equipment.
Meanwhile, the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Tuesday visited Evangelismos hospital.
"It is a pleasure and an honour to be here today. You are the frontline fighters and I am very glad to meet you in person,” Sakellaropoulou told an assembly of hospital staff behind her surgical mask.
The President said that she had been wanting to visit them for a long time and express her support, but did not want to disturb them during such difficult times, choosing instead to visit them now that they were under less pressure, in comparison with the previous period.
"For me, as for all our compatriots, it was very important that you all responded, both doctors and nurses, with self-sacrifice," she said, adding: "Greek society has supported and continues to support the nursing staff. What we can say, during this difficult time, is that we can speak of a victory of the National Health System and of the people of which it is comprised."
Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias welcomed the president, who stated that "the heart of a hospital are its nurses".