Greece moves closer to integrating health and social services at the community level

Greece has expressed its willingness to move towards integrated care at the community level, and to develop alternatives to inpatient care based on best practices from European people-centred care services.

To this end, a WHO consultant with extensive experience in implementing integrated care services visited Greece on 19–23 June 2017. Together with the Ministry of Health and the WHO Project Office in Athens, the consultant undertook a rapid assessment of current alternatives to inpatient care services in the country. They also identified potential policy options for extending the spectrum of community-based services and improving their coordination and integration.

The assessment process included discussions with leaders of the Ministry of Health and other government bodies responsible for social policies, as well as representatives of patients’ associations and workers in social and home-care services. During field visits to community nursing centres, local authorities and their social care departments, and a community mental health centre the consultant spoke with both providers and users.

Next steps include the drafting of a policy brief on the development of alternative services, enhancement of care at the community level and integration of the available services under the health and social sectors.

This policy brief will be made available for broader consultation and the identification of possible pilot areas for the initiation of multisectoral and integrated services at the local level. It will foster public debates with local authorities, services providers and other local stakeholders on the way forward in both the short and longer term.
The assessment was carried out under the second phase of the “Strengthening capacity for universal coverage” (SCUC2) initiative.

Background

The SCUC initiative is carried out with funding from the European Union through a grant agreement between the European Commission and WHO/Europe. Its general objective is to contribute to improving health and health equity in Greece, especially among the most vulnerable in the crisis-stricken population, by helping Greek authorities move towards universal health coverage and strengthen the effectiveness, efficiency and resilience of their health system.