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Cyprus

Health minister resigns (update 2)

Philippos Patsalis

Health Minister Philippos Patsalis has resigned citing personal reasons, the government said on Saturday, though his resignation letter also spoke of vested interests that stood in the way of vital reforms.

In the letter, dated July 9, Patsalis, 53, thanked President Nicos Anastasiades for entrusting him with the health portfolio, saying personal reasons obliged him to submit his resignation.

“I’d like to believe that I did my duty with the highest sense of responsibility and diligence, making every possible effort to achieve the best in a sector that as you know well, is rife with problems and needs immediate and radical reorganisation,” the letter said.

Patsalis, appointed in March 2014, said he was proud that he managed to prepare the bills for the national health scheme, and making public hospitals autonomous, “and find ourselves a step before submitting them to parliament.

“As regards hospital autonomy and the NHS, implementation is more than necessary, and I hope that this time problems and interests, won’t stand in the way of implementation,” he said.

It was not immediately known if his resignation was accepted by President Nicos Anastasiades. Politis newspaper reported that Anastasiades had accepted the resignation but asked for a few days until a replacement was found.

At the beginning of the month, the cabinet postponed approval of the hospital autonomy bill but denied the delay was linked to a threatened 48-hour strike by state nurses.

Dialogue between the health ministry and health sector professionals would continue until mid-September, the president’s office announced.

Patsalis had warned that it was imperative MPs approved the bill before the summer recess because if momentum was lost Cyprus would not get a health scheme within 40 years. It appeared that pressure from unions forced the government to yield.

Just hours before the cabinet meeting, nurses union PASYNO said they had called off the 48-hour strike that had been due to  after their  efforts “forced President Nicos Anastasiades to take the initiative and withdraw the bill”.

 

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