Cyprus Mail

Doctors win benefits and call off strike (updated)

Following a barrage of back-and-forth negotiations throughout the day, a deal between state doctors and the health ministry was clinched a little after 8pm on Tuesday, signalling the lifting of the 24-hour strike announced by the doctors’ union PASYKI for Wednesday.
Health minister Philippos Patsalis was in constant contact with PASYKI even as the doctors’ union held a board meeting to reach a decision on whether to accept the deal.
PASYKI had initially told Patsalis, who had handed state doctors the government’s pledges in writing, that it would make a decision “within one hour” but agreement was only arrived at after four hours of negotiating.
PASYKI and the minister have spent the past year negotiating demands on overtime pay, unfreezing of hospital administrator posts and better working conditions for contract doctors.
In a statement late on Tuesday, PASYKI said the decision to call off the strike was “the result of a long board meeting and tough negotiations with the health ministry”.
“The board welcomes the fact that an agreement that meets state doctors’ demands was reached, even at the eleventh hour,” the statement said. “PASYKI’s board proves by its actions that striking was not an end in itself, but a tool for claiming better healthcare for the public.”
After reaching agreement, the health minister said a text with the government’s proposals was handed to PASYKI earlier in the afternoon, but the union deemed it unsatisfactory.
He added that during his meeting with PASYKI, timelines to reach agreement on solutions were decided, including a deal on overtime pay within two weeks, and a three-month deadline on the issue of contract doctors.
“The demand for unfreezing posts has already been approved by the House,” he added.
Patsalis said that to him the resolution of these issues had been a given all along.
Following the agreement, Patsalis said, the discussion on reorganising hospitals and rendering them autonomous can continue.
He explained that issues pertaining to the management of public hospitals, like backlogs and waiting lists, will be resolved or referred by decision of the hospital’s administration and approval by the hospital’s board, so that implementation can be expedited.

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