Cyprus Mail

‘I’m no Robin Hood’, but health reforms a must, says minister

Pamporidis is determined to see the national scheme implemented within his term of office

By Evie Andreou

HEALTH Minister George Pamporidis said on Monday he is ‘no Robin Hood’ seeking to punish all those who prey on public hospitals but that he wants to make sure members of the public get the healthcare they deserve.

Speaking on state broadcaster CyBC’s evening news show, Pamporidis pledged to have the national health scheme (NHS) implemented before the end of his service.

“The political mandate I received is to speed up in every possible way the implementation of the NHS,” he said.

He added that for this to be feasible, the existence of a spirit of “constructive cooperation” is necessary.

He also said that if he doesn’t see the implementation of the NHS as health minister, “it means that I will have failed in the duty I was assigned”.

Commenting on past statements he made on the public health sector, where he spoke of the existence of fiefdoms, he said that anyone who had dealings with the health sector, knows very well what he is talking about.

“I am not bringing this subject up out of vindictiveness, or because I want to appear as a Robin Hood seeking to punish all those who prey on public hospitals. What interests me is for the public hospitals to operate properly and for members of the public to receive the service they are entitled to,” he said.

“At the end of the day, the public is paying for these services, it is they who are our bosses,” Pamporidis said.

When a patient visits a public hospital, he said, whether some like it or not, he or she is a customer.

The health minister’s pledge earlier in the month to clean out corruption and rival cliques in the health service was welcomed by political parties and offered him their support. All criticised the state of the health services and the failure until now to implement a national health scheme, a requirement of Cyprus’ bailout programme. Under the deal, Cyprus was supposed to offer a national healthcare scheme by 2015.

Pamboridis succeeded Philippos Patsalis who resigned in July, citing personal reasons, but his resignation letter also spoke of vested interests that stood in the way of vital reforms.

Patsalis, appointed in March 2014, had set to have the NHS implemented as soon as possible, but after a number of delays due to disagreements with health professionals, unions, and other technical issues, the dates were constantly pushed back. The latest implementation dates he had announced were September 2016, or two months later in the worst case scenario, for phase one, and March 2017 for phase two.

Patsalis had warned that it was imperative MPs approved the bill before the summer recess to avoid losing momentum, but following pressure from unions the president’s office had announced at the eleventh hour that the dialogue between the health ministry and health sector professionals would continue until mid-September, before the bill was sent to parliament to vote.

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