Cyprus Mail
Cyprus Health

Dialogue begins on NHS

The autonomy of the hospitals was one of the issues brought up in the dialogue

By Evie Andreou

DIALOGUE on the new national health scheme (NHS) will continue until the end of October and the final bills are to be submitted to parliament for approval by the end of November, Health Minister Philippos Patsalis said yesterday.

The minister was speaking a day after the Cabinet approved proposed legislation aiming at reforming the health sector.

The country cannot continue with the current health system, which creates the biggest health sector inequalities among all other EU countries Patsalis said yesterday after meeting AKEL’ s General-secretary Andros Kyprianou to kick off the dialogue.

At the meeting Kyprianou expressed his party’s reservations over the provisions for the autonomy of hospitals.

According to the ministry’s proposed legislation, the island’s six public hospitals, Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, Famagusta, Paphos and Makarios Hospital would be re-classed as ‘General District Hospitals’ while urban and rural health centres would come under the jurisdiction of their respective district hospitals.

The district hospitals would be managed by boards of directors, appointed by the Cabinet for a five-year term with a strong representation of government officials.

“The organisations will have the responsibility to independently secure and manage their revenues and expenses and will submit annual budgets to the cabinet for approval,” Patsalis said.

The state budget would cover any deficits in the first three years of their operation with their finances being re-evaluated in the third year.

According to the proposed legislation, this autonomy must be afforded before the implementation of the NHS, since public hospitals need to become competitive in order to remain financially viable and provide health care based on a modern administrative model.

Kyprianou said AKEL also disagrees with the government’s planning on the NHS when it comes to the role of the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) and on a possible introduction of a multi-insurance system, saying that it would create a NHS with many levels.

But Patsalis, in summing up the benefits said: “I believe that the concern of all political parties is to have a health system in our country that serves the citizen, is people-centered, gives quality health services for life, gives the right to choose a health-care provider, is financially viable and is based on social justice.”

He said the HIO would be managed by a 15-member board, again with government representatives having the majority of seats.

The NHS promises fair distribution of costs, social solidarity and healthy competition among health care providers, he said.

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