Servicing the more than 19,000 patients registered waiting lists, will begin on Monday, Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis said on Thursday.
Speaking after a meeting with DISY representatives, including the deputy Stella Kyriakidou, Pamboridis said that the newly announced scheme aiming to reduce waiting lists, will be up and running as of Monday.
The scheme, he said, will be implemented immediately following instructions of President Nicos Anastasiades, to reduce the long waiting time for inpatient care. The waiting time currently ranges between eight and 24 months, he said, depending on the department.
The scheme provides for the pilot trial of an overtime system and referrals to the private sector, by offering subsidies to patients. The coupon will give patients the option to go private and pay the difference themselves.
As regards overtime, the hospitals’ infrastructures will be put to use more hours per day, as operations will also take place in the afternoons as well. As a prerequisite for overtime, staff must clock in with timecards.
The private health sector is ready to provide its services to these patients, Pamboridis said.
As per the instructions of the president, he said, his ministry proceeded on Thursday to implement “all plans concerning the reform of the health sector”.
The ultimate goal, Pamboridis said is the implementation of the National Health Scheme (NHS), whose prerequisite is hospital autonomy and the reform of the entire sector.
In the meantime, he said, his ministry was following the instructions of the president in alleviating the problems facing the public in state hospitals in the short term.
Kyriakidou welcomed the recent decision to launch the pilot programme aiming to reduce waiting lists by referring them to the private sector. “For decades, no one dared nor had the political will to proceed with these reforms, and today the health sector faces huge problems”, Kyriakidou said.
The implementation of the NHS, she said, “is not something that will be done tomorrow, […] the reform implies many changes that must be voted by parliament.
Kyriakidou called on the country’s political forces to work together, so that they can proceed with the implementation of a health system.
Meanwhile, state doctors’ union PASYKI reiterated in an announcement that they did not agree with the health ministry’s persistence on linking the pilot programme to reduce waiting lists with them having to punch time cards.
PASYKI said its members are ready to contribute in the effort to reduce waiting lists, “for which doctors bear no responsibility at all,” but that they are concerned by the health ministry’s “insistence” to link this with clocking in.
It raises the question of whether the health ministry was “doing this so that all cases are referred to the private sector thus increasing the costs of the project and favouring private interests at the expense of public finances […]”. They said they are ready to engage in dialogue with the ministry on the basis of the 2002 law on the organisation of working time.
Along the same lines, the Cyprus Medical Associations, said that although it welcomes the decision to implement this scheme, it believes that to ensure its sustainability and proper implementation, it should be further studied and discussed with all stakeholders.