THE government on Thursday expressed satisfaction on the consensus between all heads of the parliamentary parties during their meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades as to how to proceed with the National Health Scheme (NHS).
The meeting was part of the president’s initiative to steer steps leading up to the implementation of a health system.
Getting all of the political parties on board was very important, the government announced earlier in the month, as this was a major task and the support of everyone was necessary. The meeting aimed at exchanging of ideas and the formation of a common policy that would lead to a comprehensive proposal for the final implementation of the NHS.
Following the meeting, deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said that the heads of the political parties had come to a mutual understanding on six issues concerning the NHS, the implementation of which would be based on the studies and planning of the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO). Papadopoulos said they also agreed that hospital autonomy was necessary as it was an “integral part of the NHS planning”.
“(They also agreed) that the adoption of bills on the autonomy of hospitals and the implementation of the NHS will be done simultaneously and its gradual implementation, will be based on schedules that will be set,” he said. The fourth point they agreed to, he said, was that “an important precondition” would be the completion as soon as possible of the HIO’s tender bid for the NHS software programme.
At the same time, Papadopoulos said, “the effort will continue to solve or alleviate the day-to-day problems the public health sector is facing…”.
The dialogue between the government and the political parties will continue in order to reach final decisions, he said.
He added that the political leaders were presented with the government’s proposal which includes a road map for the implementation of the NHS. The parties, too he said, submitted theirs and another meeting would follow. “Some timeframes have been discussed”.
“Everything that has been agreed today were very important,” Papadopoulos said.
Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis also expressed his satisfaction on what has been agreed by the parties.
He added that the NHS is not something abstract “that will come in our lives tomorrow,” but that the procedure for its implementation has begun.
What was missing was understanding between political parties, he said, “which I believe now exists”, so that all aspects concerning the NHS are gradually implemented.
“Today will be the beginning of a new era for healthcare,” Pamboridis said.
Discussion on the NHS began at the cabinet last week, following the tabling of the bill on hospital autonomy by Pamboridis. As part of the government’s pledge to push forward with the implementation of the NHS, 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. Pamboridis submitted the bill to the cabinet
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.