President Nicos Anastasiades has said he has asked health minister Giorgos Pamboridis to inform him of all shortages in the health sector so empty posts can be promptly filled.
“No one should mislead and be misled on health issues, especially the President of the Republic,” he said.
Anastasiades was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Amiandos community centre, where he said that “some claim that the number of (state) doctors has been reduced, while others say the number is the same, or there is no shortage of medical personnel, but unfortunately the reality is different”.
His statements came a few hours after state doctors announced enough is enough over what they perceive as the health ministry’s indifference in addressing serious understaffing at state hospitals.
Head of state doctors’ union PASYKI, Soteris Koumas had said on Friday that the only gynaecologist at the Paphos general hospital had collapsed due to overwork and that another doctor who was on sick leave had to be asked to return to his duties.
The head of state medical services Petros Matsas also admitted that several departments in state hospitals face the same problem. He said they are trying to hire gynaecologists for the Paphos hospital but with no luck as both the salary offered and the working conditions are offputting.
“It is the duty of the state to offer services in the health sector and certainly in the broader public service,” the president said at the event in Amiandos.
“I have asked both the health minister, and the health ministry’s permanent secretary and the head of medical services to bring me next week a report with all shortages in the (state) health sector, so as to immediately take measures to fill empty posts,” president Anastasiades said.
Meanwhile, Politis reported on Saturday that the undersecretary to the president Constantinos Petrides sent a letter to Pamboridis on behalf of president Anastasiades with a number of questions as regards problems faced in the public health sector and the progress that has been made so far.
Among others, the president enquires about Pamboridis’ plans to improve the situation in public hospitals, and the results of the consultation with health professionals on hospital autonomy and the National Health Scheme (NHS).
The daily reported that the letter was in a stern tone, and that it was perceived by the health ministry as a call to apologise on its implemented policies.
Petrides on Saturday however, said that nothing could be further from the truth, as the president fully supports Pamboridis. He said that the letter sent to the health ministry is a standard practice for the president to be updated on issues so that he can intervene where necessary.
Deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos conveyed the president’s personal involvement on the issue, and said he will try, in cooperation with Pamboridis, to provide immediate solutions to problems faced by the public health sector.
Next week, he said, president Anastasiades will convene for this purpose a meeting with all stakeholders, while by the end of the month he will hold a meeting with all party leaders to establish a roadmap for the implementation of the NHS.
The president, Papadopoulos said, has the political will to work towards solving problems in the health sector.
Main opposition party AKEL said in an announcement that “public health is collapsing under the weight of the errors, of the regressions, of indecision, and lack of vision and strategy of the Anastasiades government”.
After more than three years, it said, the government does not know what type of NHS it chose to implement, when and how the state hospitals’ reorganisation and modernisation will take place, nor how the hospitals will be staffed and when. “Once again we urge the president and the government to immediately address the problems of public health and to provide solutions for the benefit of patients, employees and society at large”.