Greece explores longer-term perspectives towards strengthening emergency medical services

Greece made concrete steps towards tackling 2 major challenges for enhancing the coordination and clear prioritization of its emergency medical services: it initiated the process of developing a postgraduate curriculum for emergency medicine specialization and of establishing unified hospital triage guidelines.

These challenges and the way forward were discussed during a country visit organized by WHO/Europe in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Greece on 5–8 November 2018. Over the course of the week, a team of international and local experts visited Attiko General Hospital and the National Centre for Emergency Care (EKAV). They also participated in meetings with key stakeholders such as the Hellenic Society for Emergency Medicine, the Ministry of Health, the National Health Council and the National Health Operations Centre.

The scope of the visit was to plan ahead on the adaptation of the European Curriculum on Emergency Medicine specialization, which sets a minimum of 5 years of training, and to assess the current triage practices both in pre-hospital and hospital services to identify possibilities for common nationwide guidelines for emergency departments.

The current educational framework does not include a postgraduate curriculum for specialization in emergencies. The Ministry of Health will implement a 2-year supra-specialty programme as a temporary solution in the transition period towards a modern emergency medicine system. The expected specialization will be relevant to medical personnel working in emergency departments of public hospitals and in other units providing urgent care.

Furthermore, variations in current triage practices among services and areas are based mainly on staff experience rather than unified guidelines. A supplementary component of patient severity classification is therefore necessary for significantly improving the coordination and efficiency of care across all levels.

Background

The country visit was conducted under the Strengthening Capacity for Universal Coverage, Phase 2 (SCUC2) action.
The SCUC2 action 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.