Monday, 23 July 2012

How We Are Helping the Greeks

A friend of mine fell ill in Greece lately, and had to be taken to hospital.
He was taken to a hospital in Athens where he was given extensive emergency treatment. Greece has quite a few smart modern-looking hospitals built in the palmy days when they were getting generous subsidies from the EU, and thought their prosperity would go on forever. Unfortunately they now have no money, very few drugs, and a dwindling supply of equipment and necessities. Nothing can be repaired as they have no money. Lights and heating cannot be turned on as they can't pay the bills and in many cases they have been cut off. State-of-the-art computers and sophisticated devices cannot be utilized because there is no electricity and even washing the sheets is posing a problem.
Treatment on the Greek National Health service used to be free, but now under the EU austerity policy you have to pay for every hour and every procedure. Every drug and every day you are in there means a bill for the patient. It doesn't matter that you pay your taxes, you still have to pay for NHS treatment as if you were a private patient. Luckily my friend had taken out travel insurance that covered all this.
More than anything else, they are short of staff. Doctors, nurses and other health service workers are all facing cuts in their salaries and a rocketing cost of living. The result naturally is an exodus from the country. Greeks who have good qualifications are getting on planes and boats and going almost anywhere else in the world where they can hope to get a job. Soon the only people left in the country will be the unqualified, the old and the refugees from North Africa.
On the wall of the hospital my friend actually saw a poster advertising for Greek doctors and nurses to go to the UK. It was actively recruiting medical staff to go and work in England, in the NHS, leaving Greece in its hour of desperate suffering and Greek people to die uncared-for. It pointed out that under the EU laws of free movement of people, they did not need to get any permission or screening. They would not be subjected to a language test and they could start work the day they arrived. We are supposed to be helping them by handing over more and more £billions in bail-outs, and all the time we are busy poaching their medical staff and reducing them to the level of a Third-World country.
When will people here wake up and realize that the policy of completely unhindered movement of labour is not exactly an unmixed blessing? Possibly the day after they realize that to question it is nothing to do with "racism".
Few British people understand that the real reason our government has to close the Remploy businesses and takeaway the livelihood and dignity of disabled people, is that Remploy is against EU regulations. The EU sternly forbids government subsidies on the grounds that this is unfair competition. So the Remploy workers who want to earn a living and not be merely dependent on the dole are being made unemployed. The same stupid pointless rules are destroying our mail services and a long list of other things.
If the Greeks only had the guts to leave the Euro currency zone and the EU itself they could end the regime of austerity and get back democratic control of their own country. At the moment it is being utterly destroyed.


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