Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist

Die waiting to be examined

THE GOVERNMENT must stop being stretched over barrels by bus companies, doctors and nurses, SGO’s that refute privatisation, teachers, taxi drivers’ et al.

Three ministers of this present government refuse to be stretched; Harris Georgiades, Marios Demetriades and very recently, Georgios Pamboridis – respectively, ministers of finance, of transport and of health.

To go on strike is an inalienable right in all democracies – over pay and conditions, benefits and pensions, health and safety, but not for those contaminated by sheer bloody mindedness, a chronic disease endemic throughout the public service.

When the government was obliged by the troika MOU to introduce a national health service (GESY),  health workers began behaving like ‘divas’, forcing patients to cough up their guts, standing in ever-longer hospital queues.

It seems bizarre that public servants (the chosen) are entitled to prompt private healthcare at public expense, when ordinary citizens die waiting to be examined.

The Republic is not a true democracy, meritocracy or even ‘communocracy’. It is an ‘elitocracy’; twenty percent of citizens unfairly benefitting from private health cover at the expense of ‘the unchosen’.

Former Minister of Health, Philippos Patsalis resigned after realising that it was pointless negotiating with ‘the chosen’. Whenever he took them to water, they refused to even moisten their lips, never mind drink. Great were the former minister’s aspirations, but hopelessly impossible to accomplish when not visibly supported at the time by the president, finance minister and all political parties.

Public servants automatically balk at whatever improvements need to be brought about in their daily ‘lazy’ lives (habitude prise de se reposer avant la fatigue – Jules Renard, 1864-1910) an attitude nurtured by AKEL/PEO after unionising the workforce during the 1940’s.

But much has changed in the world of work since then, obliging workers to ‘dance’ to a very different tune, which unfortunately, has yet to befall Cyprus.

Teachers in the public sector earn the equivalent of twice those in the private sector – disparate benefits, hours worked, sick leave, healthcare and pensions. The reverse is the case when comparing public healthcare doctor pay with that of private sector doctor income, our pseudo millionaires.

When I last rang my private sector specialist for an appointment, I was told she was visiting Zurich with her husband, who is also a private sector specialist. I jokingly asked at which bank’s safety deposit boxes they were to be found. I was told they were skiing in Davos, up the mountain from Zurich.

I don’t give a monkey’s what they earn or where they hide their untaxed income, that’s the concern of the Inland Revenue. But when private sector doctors can afford holidays at one of the world’s most exclusive ski resorts due to a failed, in more ways than one, public healthcare sector, I get riled.

What the present Minister of Health, Georgios Pamboridis understands is that both public and private systems are farcical excuses for healthcare – he accuses the private sector of benefitting hugely from increased patient numbers/income as well as indulging in blatant tax evasion.

By contrast, the public sector claim they are dealing with 80 percent of all healthcare patients with fewer doctors and nurses than two years ago, many said to have emigrated or switched to the private sector to earn in a day what they had previously earned in a month.

Pamboridis has contradicted this as ‘lies, damn lies’ with valid statistics.

But Pamboridis can’t deny that many public sector patients are now obliged to use both sectors to survive. In other words, the public sector is not doing its job properly, even though doctors claim many hours of un-clocked overtime pay. And that’s how they subsist on three and a half grand a month basic pay living in 500 grand houses.

Pamboridis has been led on a merry dance by health workers over the introduction of his mini-GESY, and last week he lost his cool. He performed a ‘war dance’, aiming his poisoned arrows at both the head of medical services and at the private sector, as well as health insurance companies, which he accused of having successfully lobbied MP’s for years to vote against introducing the full GESY.

Pamboridis is a highly qualified and respected maritime lawyer. He is a DISY rising star intent on succeeding where Patsalis failed. But our president (Good Cop Sycophant) has told him (Bad Cop Bully) that there’s no money to introduce a full GESY, although he openly supports Pamboridis’ mini GESY, which adherents and employers will finance, thus not costing the treasury a single sou.

Yet what can an autonomously run hospital offer that we don’t already have in place – more administrators? Or perhaps isolate workers and neuter union control…

As with the Cyprob talks, we are being kept intentionally in the dark as to the true contents/nature of Pamboridis’ mini GESY. We need to know much more about the mini-tune he’s dancing to; we need to be assured that a mini-GESY will improve patient care markedly, as well as pay and conditions for public healthcare workers, and not simply worsen this maxi-mess we laughingly call a public healthcare service.

 



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