The health ministry cannot hire more doctors for state hospitals beyond the current number, minister Giorgos Pamborides said on Tuesday, but it was excluded from a bailout obligation to cut staff.
“The health ministry is one of the lucky ministries that are exempted from the obligation of reducing staff so for each staff member who leaves, another one is hired,” he said.
The minister said an effort was underway to identify the departments where less people than the required number were serving, and those with more staff than necessary, to better allocate the personnel.
State hospitals have been under tremendous pressure as more people opt for public health care due to the economic crisis, and more and more doctors leave for the private sector.
Doctors have repeatedly protested and took industrial action to highlight the plight of state facilities and the government pledged to rectify the situation despite difficulties in recruiting doctors who preferred the private sector.
“Recruitment of doctors has started. A few have already been recruited and the effort continues,” Pamborides said.
Asked if the government was looking to Greece for doctors, the minister said positions were open to all qualified Europeans.
“But Greece certainly is a natural source of interest because for someone to be hired they must speak the Greek language,” he said.
The starting salary offered in Cyprus was €2,400, around double the one given in Greece, he added.