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Cyprus Health

Fiscal derailment likely if nurses’ demands met, budget watchdog says

The Fiscal Council, an independent body tasked with monitoring the drafting and implementation of the budget, said that satisfying the nurses’ demand for higher entry level wages could create a precedent that would lead to fiscal derailment and damage the reform process.

A simultaneous increase of the number of nurses to match the European Union average combined with satisfying their demand for higher wages, would increase their wage bill up to three times what it is today, the council said in an emailed statement on Friday.

The nurses, members of the PASYNO union, are holding an ongoing strike and also demand recognition of their university degrees before hospitals become financially autonomous as part of the gradual implementation of the national healthcare scheme.

The council, which was citing data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, said that the average number of nurses per 1,000 inhabitants in Cyprus was 4.7 compared to 8 in the European Union and added that doctors earn on average twice up to four times as much as nurses. “In most countries, nurses earn much less” up to half of what university graduates earn, the council added.

“This would create a precedent,” the council said. “Other groups, such as doctors, could then invoke the OECD reports.

The council called on parties involved to prepare a “rational and fair mechanism which will ensure with transparency” that citizens will receive adequate medical care, payment of fair wages to all public sector workers and fiscal stability.

The fiscal council also asked the government for information about the fiscal impact of its intention to hire up to 3,000 professional soldiers to replace recruits following its decision to slash military service time by a year.

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