By Angelos Anastasiou
TWO draft bills relating to the introduction of the National Health Scheme (NHS) and the financial autonomy of public hospitals were released by the Health Ministry yesterday.
In a statement, the ministry said the draft bills constituted Troika requirements and were the result of prolonged public consultations between the Health minister and various stakeholders over the past three months.
The draft bills were prepared with the support of international bodies such as the World Health Organisation and the European Union, the statement said.
“The draft bill on the introduction of the NHS is the Cypriot citizens’ portal to universal coverage to a fair health scheme for life, which will offer them unrestricted access to health services, including prevention, hospitalisation, diagnosis, drugs, treatment and recuperation,” the Health ministry’s statement said.
“Through the NHS, every legal permanent resident in Cyprus will be afforded the free choice of physician or healthcare facility, whether in the public or private sector.”
Each beneficiary will contribute to funding the system on the basis of his or her income, which translates to lower contributions from low-income citizens, and no contribution from the unemployed and children, the statement added.
The second draft bill describes the transformation of public hospitals into state organisations with financial autonomy, with a view to rendering them more efficient and flexible.
According to the statement, “the draft bill describes the creation of five autonomous organisations – one per district – which will house hospitals and primary healthcare centres in each district.”
“Once autonomous, public hospitals achieve legal, administrative, financial and scientific independence, and are strengthened with mechanisms that ensure quality healthcare to patients,” the statement said.
The draft bill on hospital autonomy does not include the articles relating to the hotly contested labour issues.
“These issues will be discussed by representatives of the employees themselves with the Personnel and Labour committees, in line with due process,” the statement said.
Consultations between the Health ministry and political parties are expected to commence immediately.
“These draft bills form the cornerstone of much-needed health reform in Cyprus,” the Health ministry said.
“In this context, we fully expect the constructive cooperation of all parties involved, with a view to promoting the proposed reforms so that benefit creation to Cypriot citizens can start,” it added.
The two draft bills are available to every citizen via the Health ministry’s website, www.moh.gov.cy.