Faced with prison sentences those who practice violence against doctors and patients in hospitals – What changes from 1 May

Faced with prison sentences will be those who practice against doctors, nurses, rescuers of the EKAB as well as patients in the . Strict penalties will be imposed from 1 May on those who exercise violence against doctors, nurses and rescuers of the EKAB and against patients in hospitals as the provisions of the new Criminal Code are implemented. Those who exercise violence against health care, most likely to be taken to prison, noted Justice Minister George Florides, as part of an event organized by the Thessaloniki Medical Association, on the occasion of today’s Pan-European Day of Awareness against Violence in Health. “In the government we are very happy because in the context of the new Criminal Code, which will apply from 1 May, we have finally introduced a provision very clear and specific, with which doctors, nurses, EKAB rescuers and hospital patients are protected when exercising their function or being treated. We believe that this provision will protect all those working hard in hospitals, especially on-call days, from verbal attacks or another kind of physical violence, and will effectively protect them, because the prescribed penalties are not funny. And this is a message that we want everyone to receive,” noted Mr. Florides. Noting that those who practice violence will face prison sentences, the Minister of Justice added: “Therefore, let all those who have in mind to take such actions think too much about it. They have to think about it too much because in hospitals there must be order, there must be calm, because doctors, nurses, rescuers give their best and therefore these people must feel safe when exercising their function. They cannot be exposed to acts of violence, whether verbal or physical. That is why what we did in the Criminal Code I think is very important.” For his part, Deputy Minister of Health Dimitris Vartzopoulos, welcoming the event, noted that the legislative framework for medical errors should be specificized. The president of the Panhellenic Medical Association Athanasios Hexadactyls noted that the Pan-European Awareness Day against violence in health was established in Europe three years ago. “It is a day that marks that the phenomenon of violence against doctors, nurses and all those working in hospitals has no place. It must be pressed before it swells and reaches its dimensions in other parts of the planet, for one reason or another: violence against the medical shirt is essentially violence against patients, because the man who operates under any threat or fear pays less than his powers and knowledge allow him. And that’s a huge injustice for patients primarily. The recent legislation gives us great satisfaction, it is in the right direction. They should all know that within the hospital, the concept of violence simply does not exist. No matter what the reason, very simple, violence is not meant. Our culture does not allow it, our European culture does not allow it,” added Mr. Hexadactylus. The president of the Medical Association of Thessaloniki Nikos Nitsas, for his part, pointed out that everyone’s goal is to zero the incidents of violence. “Doctors, nurses, staff work under burnout conditions, work under substrain conditions. Of course, citizens in some cases suffer from the weaknesses of the health system, but these should not lead to incidents of violence against doctors, nurses, health personnel. The conditions in hospitals need to be improved, hospital recruitment needs to be done to serve the citizen better, but everyone must also know that the new criminal code regime sets strict penalties and we would like to thank the minister and the government who stood next to us in this request, to make this offence specific,” Mr.Nitsas said. During the event tension prevailed as doctors and health officials entered the hall holding banners, shouting slogans against the degradation of the health system and expressing their opposition to afternoon surgeries.