A QUESTIONNAIRE sent to private doctors by a company conducting a survey on behalf of the Health Insurance Organisation (OAY), which will administer the payments of national health scheme (Gesy), has brought to light yet another obstacle for the introduction of universal health cover – the Pancyprian Medical Association (PIS) considers the proposed rates for doctors offering primary care “unacceptable”.
According to a PIS representative there was “a huge divergence regarding the pay of doctors in primary care”. Private doctors, whom the association represents, want more than OAY’s offer (€100,000 per year for 1,100 patients with a maximum of €240,000 for 2,500 patients), claiming that this arrangement would mean newly-arrived doctors would receive €400 a month while the average doctor would be paid €1,000 a month.
Doctors should be paid what they were currently paid by insurance companies for their services, argued PIS, although it said it would wait for OAY to submit its proposals for the remuneration of specialists before giving its official response. Those proposals, in all likelihood, would also be deemed unacceptable. An OAY spokesman accused PIS of declaring the proposed pay unsatisfactory and unacceptable before consultations between the two sides were completed.
The stand taken by private doctors is perfectly understandable given what has happened so far. They want to secure maximum earnings from Gesy as the public sector health professionals have done. Last year the government agreed to increase hospital nurses’ pay and then offered pay rises to hospital doctors. This year, after the elections, an agreement was signed with Pasydy for corresponding pay rises to physiotherapists, speech-therapists, X-ray machine operators and others working in state hospitals.
Why should private doctors not try to maximise their earnings from Gesy like everyone else has done? President Anastasiades set the agenda by awarding pay-rises to all employees of public hospitals, because his main concern was his re-election rather than creating a financially viable Gesy. If this were the intention, the government should have taken the rational position that there would be no pay increases to hospital staff because increased labour costs could make the Gesy unviable.
The president should have demanded small sacrifices from all hospital workers to help make the scheme that would benefit the whole population viable, instead of satisfying their demands. OAY would then be in a much stronger position to negotiate lower rates for doctors.
Greed and selfishness were rewarded by the government and it will now have to do the same in the case of the private doctors. The policy of increasing the costs of Gesy before it has started operating will ensure it is deemed financially unviable and will never get off the ground.