Main opposition Akel on Thursday accused President Nicos Anastasiades of driving the health sector to the brink of collapse while boasting about appointing the board which will oversee the operation of public hospitals under the national health scheme (Gesy).
Akel MP Giorgos Loukaides said that the cabinet’s appointment on Tuesday of the eight-member board of the organisation of state health services (Okyy) was an obligation stipulated in the package of bills on Gesy voted by the House plenum last June.
Akel, he said, will support the efforts of the board, as long as they are within “the right framework for a substantial upgrade of the public health sector”.
But he added sarcastically that he understood the anxiety of Anastasiades’ election camp to boast about the appointment “after the current administration drove the health sector to the brink of collapse”.
Only an administration under Akel-backed independent candidate Stavros Malas could ensure that Gesy materialised as agreed and that “games will not begin again aiming to serve large private interests in the health sector”, Loukaides said.
The eight-member board of Okyy will be responsible for overseeing the operation of all public hospitals and centres of primary health care as well as implementing administrative and financial autonomy in public hospitals. Hospital autonomy is the first step toward the implementation of the Gesy.
The board will be chaired by Sir David Nicholson, former chief executive of NHS England.
State doctors’ union Pasyki welcomed the move but also rushed to warn that they would not be told by the board what to do.
The head of the union, Soteris Koumas, said that even though Nicholson had experience with the British NHS, he would face a great challenge in Cyprus.
Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC radio on Wednesday, Koumas said that by the time the board takes over – on January 1 – and is ready to suggest solutions to problems faced by state hospitals, patients would continue to suffer.
“We stress the word ‘suggest’ because we will not have them (the board) telling us what to do,” Koumas said. He said that the union is willing to enter into consultations with the Okyy board for anything they would like to introduce.
But Health Minister, Giorgos Pamboridis, was quick to state otherwise, saying that the board would be in charge of state hospitals and no one else.
“Because I heard some statements that ‘these gentlemen will not do as they please in state hospitals’, I say that they (board) will be in charge,” Pamboridis told Alpha TV.
The board, which will serve a five-year term will be chaired by Nicholson KCB, CBE, and its members will be businessmen Anastasios David and Nikolas Shiacolas, Professor David Anthony Haslam, Chartered Accountant Marios Klitou and Dr Peter Martin Dawson. The permanent secretaries of the health and finance ministries will be ex officio board members.
The board will assume duties as of January 1, when it will begin procedures to man Okyy and hire the managing teams of each state hospital. As of that date, Pamboridis said, the operation of state hospitals and health centres and the services they offer will be fully under the Okyy board.
In March 2019 taxpayers’ contributions to Gesy will begin, while in June of the same year, outpatient care is to kick in. Gesy will be in full swing by July 1, 2020.