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Cyprus Health

NHS funding would need to double to ensure healthcare for all

Public health care (CM archives)

THE implementation of a National Health Scheme (NHS) is imperative in order to provide the poor and underprivileged who are dying unnecessarily in hospitals with a high level of healthcare, the head of the Medical Association’s (CyMA) ethics committee Vasos Economou said on Wednesday.

The association presented findings of a study it commissioned on the implementation of a viable NHS which its head, Petros Agathangelou, said was impartial and created “scientifically and with honesty”.

For a functioning and effective NHS, it will require at least 12 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), according to the study prepared by Deloitte, Agathangelou said. Today, the overall budget for the health sector is 6.5 percent of the country’s GDP, he said, while the EU average is 11.3 percent.

At 46 percent of total costs, Cyprus at present tops the list on direct payments in healthcare made by patients themselves, while the EU average is 15.8 percent, Agathangelou said. On the other end of the scale, Cyprus ranks last, again with 46 percent, as regards expenditure compared to the EU average of 76 percent.

Based on the latest EU-wide report, he said, “the existing system has led to the ineffective use of resources as well as to inequalities as regards access to healthcare”. Therefore, he said, it is commonly acceptable that the system applied here for the last decades is not responding to present day needs.

“For 16 years, there has been no implementation of any mechanism of the original NHS planning,” Agathangelou said. He added that the study the CyMA commissioned focuses on identifying best practices at an international level which can be implemented locally.

In addition, the study recorded the suggestions of organisations of healthcare professionals, insurance companies, private hospitals, medical laboratory services, and patients.

“The main conclusion of the study is the need for the transformation of existing practices and not their abolition, and the adoption of solutions applied in other countries which may directly and realistically be implemented in Cyprus,” Agathangelou said.

An objective self-evaluation, he said, “is perhaps the most substantial condition for a NHS that ensures comprehensive healthcare aiming at accessibility, effectiveness and quality of service”.

He said that the CyMA has already sent a letter to President Nicos Anastasiades and the political party leaders with the association’s positions to consider during their meeting to discuss the NHS on Thursday.

“Before caviar and lobsters, it is imperative to introduce the NHS to serve the people who are dying in hospitals unnecessarily, to offer the first steps for a good level of healthcare to the poor and underprivileged who are not linked to political parties”, the head CYMA’s ethics committee Economou said.

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