HEALTH: GHS to go ahead as planned, says Minister

Cyprus’ Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou underlined that there will be no more delays in the implementation of the country’s General Health System, the first phase of which is expected to begin by summer with the out-patients’ service.

Talking to CyBC radio on Friday, Ioannou said that the government and the health ministry are on course to implement the scheme as was voted by parliament and that there was no need for further delays or postponements. Commenting on reactions from specialist doctors and other health workers’ unions and associations, the minister said that he expects their participation number to increase as the date nears for the first phase of the scheme.

He said that despite the reactions, the ministry foresees that a sufficient number of doctors and health workers will jump on board before the outpatient phase goes live on June 1. The minister underlined that there is nothing to gain with postponing the GHS implementation until 2020, essentially giving reponding to stakeholders’ calls for a delay of either the whole project or contributions to fund the health care system.

Ioannou said that the State Health Services Organisation OKYPY, the caretaker body overseeing the administrative and financial autonomy of state health institutions, is conducting official and unofficial contacts with doctors and health workers.

The minister said that he has received many complaints from pediatricians who claim that they have been pressured not join the GHS.

Ioannou also commented on criticism surrounding the appointment of OKYPY chairman David Nicholson saying that the government is pleased with Nicholson’s work at the organisation.

The government has been criticised over the Nicholson appointment for what they see as a conflict of interest due to his and his wife’s direct connection to NHS hospitals in Britain.

The former chief of the NHS had not disclosed several associations with NHS institutions such as the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust which provides hospital services to three hospitals in Britain. Nicholson had served as interim chairman of the board of the trust.

Meanwhile, the Employers and Industrialists Federation OEV has motioned to postpone contributions, which is supposed to begin with employee and employers’ contributions as of March 1, until a sufficient number of doctors and health institutions jump on board the GHS.

OEB suggested that in such a case a small one-off contribution should be given by all GHS clients, with the employers’ federation estimating that the government could collect some EUR 100 mln which can be spent on improving state hospitals and on agreements with private health institutions.

At the same time, OEB has offered to mediate between the Health Insurance Organisation (tasked with implementing the GHS), the Medical Association PIS and the Association of Private Hospitals in order to resolve the issues, as the latter two are its members.

OEV has called on its members in the meantime not to cancel any private health insurance policies they have subscribed to for their staff until the full deployment of the GHS.

Source: Financial Mirror