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President expects new health minster to “immediately” engage NHS stakeholders (Updated)

By Andria Kades

President Nicos Anastasiades said on Monday he expected the new health minister to engage immediately in constructive, meaningful dialogue with stakeholders to push forward the national health scheme (NHS).

He was speaking during the swearing-in ceremony for lawyer Giorgos Pamboridis, 46, who is replacing Philippos Patsalis who resigned earlier this month, citing personal reasons, but who also spoke of vested interests that stood in the way of vital reforms.

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.

Patsalis had warned that it was imperative that 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.

Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony, Anastasiades said: “I call on you to prioritise the immediate improvement of the health service offered on a daily basis to our ill fellow citizens. They should not have to wait for the completed reforms to correct problems that exist today and tire patients whether these are long waiting lists or other problems that we often hear.”

He stressed the reforms deemed necessary, in order to successfully implement the NHS include the costing of state hospital services and utilising their autonomy which will mean more organised, flexible and less bureaucratic public hospitals.

Anastasiades called on Pamboridis to “serve the country and its people taking the political responsibilities of one of the most important ministries, the ministry that deals with the most precious thing for people, health.”

In the same way that the government managed to stabilise the financial  system, restored the credibility of the state, reformed social welfare by introducing the guaranteed minimum income, reformed the public sector, modernized the justice system and introduce reforms to the education sector and changed local governance, so too should Pamboridis play his role, Anastasiades said.

“For the changes you envision to happen, you may need to clash with vested interests, something that several of your colleagues in your sector experienced.”

During his speech, he hailed Patsalis as a “prestigious scientist, a creative I must admit, minister, who leaves behind him a great legacy in the efforts he exerted and the effort you are also called to demonstrate.”

Pamboridis thanked the president saying he too would work to meet expectations for a level of health service befitting a European nation.

During the ceremony, Patsalis thanked the president, ministerial staff and the World Health Organisation for their help stressing that it was a difficult project to take on managing hospitals that were falling apart and restructuring and outdated health system.

Although several things have been solved “better results will not be seen if the restructuring and autonomy of public hospitals do not move forward.”

Saying he felt proud of what he achieved, his resignation was, apart from personal reasons the only way he could keep his dignity as he was opposed to all the interests of those involved.

Born in Nicosia in 1969, Pamboridis studied law in Greece and the UK.

He has worked for the City law firm of Holman, Fenwick & Willan before joining L. Papaphilippou & Co in Nicosia as a partner for five years. In 2003 he started his own firm, Pamboridis LLC, with offices in Nicosia and Athens.

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