Wednesday’s meeting at the presidential palace to discuss employment issues under the upcoming hospital autonomy has been cancelled until a study on the issue is completed, head of state doctors’ union Pasyki, Soteris Koumas said on Tuesday.
Pasyki and other doctors’ unions met President Nicos Anastasiades last month to discuss their concerns as to the reform in the health sector, which would see the introduction of a national health scheme (Gesy). The first step toward Gesy is to render state hospitals administratively and financially autonomous so they can compete with private hospitals after the health scheme kicks in.
The study into hospital staffing under autonomy was commissioned by Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis last October and is expected to be completed within the month.
“At the moment, we are talking about understaffing of state hospitals. We are expecting the study, which should have already been completed,” Koumas said.
Earlier in the day he said the two sides were not far from reaching an agreement over pay, but they had agreed the study results might affect what has been laid down so far and that it would be best to wait for it to be completed.
Commenting on whether this would delay tabling of bills on hospital autonomy and Gesy to the plenum for a vote, Koumas said that just because timeframes were set, it does not mean that the union should rush to agree to something that would prove to have shortcomings.
“It is better to delay a bit than leave gaps in the name of the reform. This is health we are talking about,” he told the Cyprus Mail.
Earlier in the month, Pamporidis said political leaders agreed they would like to see the two bills that were sent to the House in mid-October be voted on by June 1.
Koumas said the health ministry is to blame for any delays as it has yet to present the techno economic analysis model of the autonomous hospitals, which is part of the study, and that it had also delayed in submitting its proposals on labour relations.
Following last month’s meeting between the unions and Anastasiades, Pamboridis said the president had asked the unions to come up with an agreement within the framework he had provided.
The government admitted that state doctors’ salaries required review and adjustment and that good doctors should be given incentives to remain in the public health sector.
Pamboridis had said it was necessary to match state doctors’ salary demands with those practices that would be adopted under hospital autonomy to increase productivity and improve the quality of healthcare.