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Cyprus

Cabinet orders health minister to submit hospitals bill by July 15 (Updated)

The cabinet expects Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis to submit a bill on the financial and administrative autonomy of state hospitals by July 15, and it also approved the hiring of 28 physicians to address the serious understaffing faced by the public health sector, Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Wednesday.
The ministerial body convened in an extraordinary meeting to discuss and approve the decisions that were taken the last two days following meetings President Nicos Anastasiades held with public health stakeholders, in a bid to seek solutions to the problems state hospitals face, among them, serious understaffing. The president on Tuesday ordered the immediate recruitment of 28 doctors with specific specialties, in specific clinics, in all hospitals to cover the most urgent needs in the state health sector.
In an effort to address inefficiencies, Christodoulides said, the cabinet decided the immediate advertising in the local and Greek press of the vacancies to hire contract doctors.
The cabinet also called for the formation of a technocratic committee with the health ministry’s permanent secretary as its chairman, which will be tasked to hire within ten days an external expert to provide a detailed analysis “as soon as possible” of data and needs in medical and paramedical personnel.
The same committee, will also be responsible for monitoring procedures on filling new job posts for medical and paramedical staff, and on their sick leave or sabbaticals, to ensure “the fast and effective filling (of empty posts)”.
According to the cabinet decisions, the technocratic committee, will also evaluate the shifts system in state hospitals and make suggestions on the utilisation of hospital infrastructure and expanded working hours.
The cabinet also made clear through its decisions that it wants to see progress as regards the implementation of hospital autonomy, which is the first step to the implementation of the National Health Scheme (NHS).
“The cabinet believes that the full financial and administrative autonomy of state hospitals will increase productivity and will resolve several of the problems hospitals face today,” Christodoulides said.
At the same time, he said, effective hospital autonomy with a fully independent management, financial management, and staff management, is a necessary pre-condition for the right planning and a successful implementation of the NHS.
It thus calls on Pamboridis to complete the dialogue with all stakeholders and submit the bill on hospital autonomy by the July 15, “as it is the necessary first step” to the NHS.
It also called on Finance Minister Harris Georgiades to assign a consultancy agency the preparation of a financial impact study, in preparation for the implementation of the NHS.
Pamboridis was also called to get involved in an “intensive dialogue” with all stakeholders on the NHS.
State doctors’ union PASYKI however, expressed their concerns as to whether the government will be able to find the 28 physicians to fill the empty posts, as they will be hired on six-month or annual contracts, which may not be deemed a very attractive prospect.
PASYKI head Soteris Koumas, said that this may not encourage much interest. He added that there have been thoughts to hire doctors on a permanent basis but that it would be time consuming as other procedures had to be followed, and there is urgent need to cover these posts.
Koumas said they estimated with the state health services, that they need around 200 doctors in public hospitals.
Meanwhile, the Medical Association, CyMA, said that they have too prepared a presentation with their suggestions on the NHS, and have sent it to the president.
President Anastasiades is to also meet with representatives of political parties within the month to discuss hospital autonomy and the implementation of the NHS.
AKEL head Andros Kyprianou welcomed the announcement to hire more doctors but said this did not solve the problems of the public health sector.
He said that political parties must meet with the president to discuss these issues.

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