Cyprus Mail

Health minister seeks compromise with state doctors

By Poly Pantelides

HEALTH minister Petros Petrides has made yet another overture of compromise to the PASYKI union of government doctors who have threatened to strike over the next two weeks if their overtime pay is reduced.

Petrides said he will be meeting with PASYKI again early next week in order to find a compromise.

As the minister in charge of hospitals, he is obliged to implement a policy agreed with Cyprus’ lenders aimed at reducing overtime pay in the public health sector and to introduce regular wages for working between 7am and 7pm. PASYKI previously agreed to stretch normal working hours beyond 3pm and up to 4.30pm, but recently said that was only a temporary agreement.

Petrides said there were 15 different overtime pay scales, depending on doctors’ specialties. “All this has to be moulded into one so that some people cannot abuse the system,” he said.

But PASYKI head Maro Kontou said yesterday that they wanted to preserve overtime pay depending on their speciality and ensure it was “not lower than before”. They also wanted to cap the number of patients’ visits to doctors on a given day because they were “endless queues” in some of the district outpatient centres.

She also said that doctors should not be treated the same way as other civil servants.

“Doctors are not any ordinary civil servants… Overtime for doctors really means working, not being on stand-by,” Kontou said.

PASYKI said they will stake a warning strike within a fortnight followed by a 48-hour strike if the health ministry does not withdraw its decision to reduce their pay.

Some state doctors reportedly collect as much in overtime as their regular wages, while in the past the health ministry had even agreed to pay doctors for each X-ray they reviewed for breast cancer outside their normal working hours.

By early next year, the health ministry is expected to overhaul the system of regular, shift and overtime pay and should start monitoring overtime hours clocked and pay.

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