By Andria Kades
State doctors will strike every day if need be to pressure deputies into withdrawing a draft bill raising their retirement age from 65 to 68, their union (PASYKI) leader Soteris Koumas said on Saturday.
Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, he said this bill essentially serves to benefit management – a handful of people within hospitals – while there are countless doctors working for the state on a temporary contract basis that is continuously extended.
Contract doctors’ union SESIK also issued a statement on Saturday saying raising the retirement age poses risks to patients and blasted deputies for discussing the draft bill “while contract doctors are stuck in a regime of job insecurity with humiliating wages, without the possibility of any career development and without a future.”
Furthermore, Koumas went on to say the practise of extending the age of retirement was only applied to doctors and not any other state employees, including others within the hospital such as nurses.
This is essentially why state doctors are proceeding to strike on Monday for six hours, starting at 8:30am – an hour after they arrive at work – to 2:30pm, while the union called on deputies to think twice about the draft bill.
“Patients who have appointments will unfortunately not be served, only the very urgent instances which require immediate care will be seen to, ensuring no patients will be at risk,” Koumas said.
“I understand people’s fears for Monday but we can’t continuously take advantage of the fact that because health is a sensitive matter, doctors should never react to anything… why should we bear all the brunt of responsibility?”
If the proposal, set to be discussed by the House finance committee on Monday, is not rescinded, Koumas said “we will discuss on a daily basis and proceed with escalating measures.”
The plan is for the proposal to head to the plenum for a vote on Thursday.
“We do believe there is time until Monday to resolve the problem,” Koumas added.
He sought to clarify the strike measures were solely related to the retirement age proposal and nothing to do with the issue of how many patients government doctors see each day, which also saw them threatening to take measures this week.
Asked if either of the measures have anything to do with health minister Giorgos Pamborides’ recent announcement to implement a mini National Health Scheme, Koumas completely ruled it out saying “we have a number of letters dating back a long time ago to prove it,” which were sent to the ministry.
An announcement by PASYKI earlier this week said as of Monday, members should examine 20 patients a day while GPs should see 30.
“We have to finally understand what the medical profession actually means. Seeing all these situations around us, we are forced to react because they have left us to God’s mercy,” Koumas said.