By Andria Kades
A bill proposing the age of retirement for government doctors is extended from 65 to 68 will not head to plenum this week the House finance committee decided on Tuesday after complaints were lodged by state doctors and AKEL.
After the doctors threatened to take “measures” if the committee gave the nod to the bill, chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos said deputies decided they would give the health ministry more time to study the proposal.
Tabled by DISY, DIKO and EVROKO, both the unions that were opposed to the move and AKEL claimed it was outdated as it had been prepared a year and a half ago.
Within that timeframe, some 50 jobs were unfrozen.
Although it initially had the support of the Green Party and EDEK, they later retracted it following the unfreezing of jobs.
Those opposed said there were scores of unemployed new doctors that could be utilised but instead, already established doctors – several of whom who have their own private practices – would continue to get paid instead of bringing in new talent.
Papadopoulos said the proposal was submitted after they “observed particular pressure and increased demand concerning medical services in state hospitals during a period where due to the financial crisis the government decided to freeze hiring.
“Precisely for this reason, we believed a chance should have been given to doctors that have experience and knowledge and can continue to offer services.”
Papadopoulos disagreed with those against the bill and said to this day “we believe the problems in state hospitals have not been resolved. We see huge waiting lists in crucial services.”
The health ministry has said “the proposal does not serve any purpose” and needs to be discussed as part of the broader reform of public health services with all implicated parties.
Papadopoulos added that on Tuesday the finance ministry said the bill no longer needed to be utilised due to the health ministry’s decision to unfreeze some 50 positions in state hospitals.
AKEL’s Stavros Evagorou said “of course we are opposed to this as a matter of principle.” With the levels of unemployment Cyprus faces, he said the party could not accept such extreme measures.
He expressed satisfaction over the fact that EDEK and the Green Party rescinded their support for the proposal and said even though some deputies continued their insistence in supporting the proposal, they were having second thoughts, a positive sign, he added.