By Angelos Anastasiou
An oncologist hired at the state-funded Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre earning approximately €30,000 more than an oncologist taken on by the health ministry is but one of the distortions observed at the facility, which can only be remedied via the introduction of a national health scheme, daily Politis reported on Monday.
According to the paper, the Oncology Centre also burdens state coffers through provident fund contributions for its employees, for which the cancer-treatment facility pays 10 per cent, while the government chips in a quarter of the cost.
In a letter of response to report findings by the audit service, forwarded to the House of Representatives last week, the ministry unveiled plans to render the system viable through sweeping reform of remuneration schemes at the centre, as well as the introduction of government officials in the facility’s management.
According to the Auditor-general’s latest annual report, the Oncology Centre receives an annual grant of €15 million, plus medicinal supplies worth €10.6 million, plus an additional €1.5 million in laboratory testing expenses.
A study for the preparation of a radiation-treatment services plan, undertaken by renowned oncologist Dr Lizbeth Kenny, Medical Director of Cancer Services at the Queensland Central Department of Health, is due in June 2015.
The purpose of the study is to provide recommendations on the basis of various criteria, including population, geography, and existing infrastructure and services offered.
However, the Auditor-general noted in his report, a 2009 cabinet decision to operate new radiation-therapy centres remains in force, as the reasons cited for its suspension – the country’s dire economic state – are considered unfounded since modern implementation methods allow for minimal-cost projects.
Such methods include public-private partnerships, which would entail granting state land to private interests, in which to construct and operate the facilities.
The agreement creating the Bank of Cyprus Oncology Centre was signed in 1992, and the facility became operational six years later, offering treatment to cancer patients who hold a valid Health ministry card for free.
Construction of the Centre was financed by the Bank of Cyprus on state land, and the government agreed to undertake operational expenses.
A seven-strong board of directors comprises three appointments each by the government and the Bank of Cyprus, with the board chairman decided jointly.