Social Healthcare in Austerity Times: The Case of Social Clinics in Greece

Saturday, June 25, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
56 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Eleftherios Kretsos, University of Greenwich, London, United Kingdom
Vogiatzoglou Markos, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence, Italy
The 2008 financial crisis and the years of austerity that followed it had a tremendous impact on the Greek economy and society. With respect to health services, the combined impact of budgetary cuts in the public health system and the exclusion of hundreds of thousands of citizens from it, altered, perhaps in an irreversible manner, the ways in which healthcare is being provided in the country. The societal response to the unprecedented health system crisis came through local, horizontal and collaborative projects, namely the social clinics and pharmacies which were founded all over Greece. Albeit populated by volunteers, medical personnel and non-specialist citizens, the social clinics represent a rupture with previous, charity-like, models of healthcare provision. Their modus operandi is assembly-based. Their unwillingness to accept any sort of monetary assistance or remuneration for their services proved to be a counter-measure to the broader marketization process the Greek public health system went through during the years of austerity. Finally, the deeply political public discourse they produced allowed them to play a significant role in the late stages of the Greek anti-austerity movement.

This paper, based on rich empirical evidence gathered through semi-structured interviews and participant observation, aims to examine the contribution of social clinics and pharmacies to the overall healthcare provision model of Greece; identify their key elements which are relevant to the social economy scientific debate and literature; and bring forward the challenges and opportunities that emerge for institutional actors striving to redesign the Greek post-crisis public healthcare system.