By Constantinos Psillides
THE government is taking the first step towards improving state provided health care, with the head of Nicosia General Hospital Petros Matsas announcing yesterday that a number of changes in the current service system will take place in three weeks time.
The changes aim at better resource management and reducing waiting periods for patients.
“We still have a lot of issues to resolve but we are making progress. I think we can find solutions to those problems,” said Matsas, speaking to state broadcaster CyBC.
One of the changes will be the creation of a minor injuries department that will deal with non-vital emergencies such as insect bites and light injuries, instead of directing all the patients to the casualty department. According to Matsas, the casualty department will only deal with serious cases that require hospitalisation or intensive care.
Improved bed management is also a new focus of the changes being introduced at both Nicosia General and the Makarion hospital.
Matsas said that a pilot programme that run for a month saved the hospital €51,000 by establishing a pre-operation unit.
The unit was responsible for completing all required preparation procedures, such as blood analyses or chest x-rays. Matsas told CyBC that just by completing the procedures beforehand, the hospital saved one bed for each patient who up until then had to stay in the hospital for a night prior to the operation.
He said the two hospitals will also introduce an automated bed availability programme, so that every doctor referring a patient will instantly know whether there are beds available.
As regards long waiting periods, Matsas referred to the Pap smear test for women, saying that under the new system, appointments can now be made within two weeks, instead of the eight month that applied before.
Changes at both hospitals are part of the government’s general plan to introduce the much-delayed National Health Scheme.
Concluding the NHS plan was one of the demands set down by the Troika of international lenders who bailed out the Cyprus economy with the condition that far reaching public sector reforms and efficiencies would be introduced.
The NHS has been in the works for quite some time but implementing it proved impossible due to reaction by the doctors and nurses unions.
During the second troika review, the government managed to obtain an extension on presenting a plan which would see the final introduction of the NHS. This was done in order to ensure the NHS would not further burden vulnerable groups to the point that they would not be able to afford public medical care.
According to the conditions of the bailout, the NHS would need to be introduced by the end of 2015 and for that reason the troika had asked the government to present a detailed plan by this month.
A troika delegation is expected on the island for its third review on January 28 and will leave on February 12.