Cyprus Mail
Cyprus Health

Minister denounces doctors’ work stoppage

By Evie Andreou

HEALTH Minister Philippos Patsalis criticised the two-hour work stoppage by doctors on Monday, saying the action unnecessarily punished patients when the doctors’ concerns had been met.

State doctors’ union PASYKI had called the stoppage last week after accusing the minister of refusing to deal with four key demands: funds for their over-time pay, the future of contract doctors under the new health scheme (NHS), the unfreezing of promotions and the lack of time they had been given to discuss their employment status under the NHS.

The head of the Nicosia General Hospital, Petros Matsas, said that no major problems had been reported from the stoppage that ended at 9.30am as many patients had avoided visiting state hospitals during that time.

He said that at the outpatients’ health centres doctors usually start working at 9am so they assumed duties just 30 minutes late, while his hospital’s emergency unit was staffed by two doctors that are not members of PASYKI.

All surgeries have also been reprogrammed.

The head of PASYKI, Maro Kontou, protested that doctors had been given the health ministry’s bill which outlines the doctors’ employment conditions under the NHS far too late for them to look at the bill and suggest amendments.

“Our future is on the line and the ministry does not want to inform us. The bills will be tabled by the end of the month and the minister said he would present them to us by the end of the week. He wants us to decide on the bill within one or two days,” Kontou said.

She argued that they need at least seven to 10 days to decide since they need to show the documents to lawyers.

“It took the minister and his staff so much time to prepare the bill and we have to answer in a few days about matters that concern our employment conditions?” Kontou commented.

She denied the minister’s comments that he had met their demands, saying he had addressed just one, the unfreezing of promotions for which he has set a time frame and which he is to present to the cabinet by the end of the month.

“In six months GPs will enter the NHS and they don’t know their employment conditions. In six weeks the contracts of temporary doctors expire and he has yet to tell us how he is going to resolve the matter,” Kontou said.

PASYKI announced that they will decide on Wednesday whether they will escalate the measures.

“They will have the time to go through the bills. Of course that doesn’t mean that we will waste a lot of time on discussions, because we have been discussing it for 30 years,” Patsalis said.

“No-one will change employment status, no-one will lose their jobs and no-one’s salary will be less than what they earn today,” Patsalis said.

He added that state employees will be transferred to the new autonomous hospitals without losing their benefits and that all employees with contracts will continue to have contracts. State hospital autonomy is one basic provision of the NHS.

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