By Constantinos Psillides
STATE doctors have called off a four-hour strike planned for July 28, following a Monday meeting with Health Minister Philippos Patsalis.
Patsalis welcomed the state doctors’ decision, telling the press that decisions “were made to solve chronic problems, thus improving the state of public hospitals”.
Patsalis said that negotiations have begun with the state doctors union (PASYKI), regarding demands concerning job security for contract doctors, a lift on the promotion ban in public hospitals and a clear guideline on overtime pay.
The strike has been called off until September, when PASYKI will evaluate the course of the negotiations.
Patsalis said that when it came to overtime pay, the state has agreed to allocate a €800,000 fund for 2014 and a further €6 million for future overtime. Patsalis noted that a new overtime and on call scheme will be discussed and put into effect by January 1, 2015.
“We have essentially settled on overtime. There are nine more issues to be dealt with by September, chief of which is contract doctors’ job security, lifting the promotion ban and restructuring public hospitals,” he said.
State doctors union (PASYKI) have regularly clashed with the health ministry on the implementation of a national health scheme (NHS), which is a condition of the island’s bailout by the troika of lenders (International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and the European Commission).
Troika technocrats start the fifth review of the country’s adjustment programme on Tuesday.
Asked on the coming troika review, Patsalis said that this is the first time that Cyprus will produce results regarding the NHS and not just plans.
“We have moved from the planning phase to the implementation phase, covering the first few metres of what would probably be a marathon that ends with the total restructuring of our country’s health system,” said Patsalis, adding that Cyprus will be honour its commitment to troika.
“Three cabinet decisions were made, one regarding a roadmap on implementing the NHS, one on every step we need to take to restructure public hospitals and one about buying software for all hospital and care centres,” he said.
In a special general assembly held on Sunday, state doctors said they were calling off the strike in an effort to better work with the government to come up with solutions.
“We should note that discussions like these have been going on for the last two years. Our decision to call off the strike shouldn’t be considered as a sign of weakness but as a responsible action. On September 1 we will meet again to assess the situation and decide whether a strike is needed,” said a statement by PASYKI.
By Constantinos Psillides