President Nicos Anastasiades has invited the leads of political parties to a meeting on July 21 to discuss issues concerning the National Health Scheme (NHS), deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said on Wednesday.
Papadopoulos said that discussion on the NHS began at the cabinet on Wednesday, following the tabling of the bill on hospital autonomy by Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis. Hospital autonomy is a pre-requisite for the NHS. The cabinet had asked Pamboridis to submit a bill on the financial and administrative autonomy of state hospitals by July 15.
“Everything else concerning the road map to the NHS implementation will be configured after the completion of the dialogue between the government and political parties, but also stakeholders,” Papadopoulos said.
Toward that end, he said, the president has called for a meeting of the heads of political parties on July 21 to “exchange ideas and form, if possible, a common policy that will lead to a comprehensive proposal for the final implementation of the NHS”.
At the same time, Papadopoulos said, the health minister in cooperation with the finance minister and the undersecretary to the president, will continue dialogue with all stakeholders in the public and private sector.
The NHS is a requirement of Cyprus’ bailout programme. Under the deal, Cyprus was supposed to offer a national healthcare scheme by 2015. A major reason for the delay is that the autonomy of state hospitals is still pending.
Back in 2014, the then Health Minister Petros Petrides had announced that the NHS would indeed be introduced in 2015, but it would be implemented in stages and completed in 2016.
Since then, dates have been constantly pushed back.