Cyprus Mail

NHS is for the benefit of the people, not the staff, minister says

Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis

The overhaul of the public health sector is for the benefit of the people and not health professionals, and political parties must support this, Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis said on Thursday.

In his assessment of his first year in office Pamboridis told the Cyprus News Agency in an interview that he believes it was mostly positive as his task was to oversee the reform of the health sector. His first year anniversary as health minister was July 27.

“I had the opportunity a few days earlier, on July 21, for the political leaders to approve during their meeting with the president our plans, which we arduously prepared,” Pamboridis said.

Those plans, he said, included “all those elements necessary to structurally change everything in the health sector”.

He added that the bills concerning all that needs to be done for the implementation of the National Health Scheme (NHS) will be tabled to parliament soon, but that this could not be done without everyone’s help.

By June 2017 a public organisation will be set up which will oversee hospital autonomy, while by June 2019 outpatient care will be introduced. The ultimate date for the full implementation of the NHS is June 1, 2020.

“Political parties must honestly decide what exactly they want as regards health reform and speak to the patients, doctors and nurses in one voice instead of caressing their ears… telling interested parties what they want to hear,” Pamboridis said.

He added that he is certain this is what happens when each group meets with representatives of political leaders. Instead of telling patients and healthcare professionals “these are the decisions that have been taken”, parties tell them what they want to hear, Pamboridis said.

“It is a vital sector. People do not receive the services they are entitled to from a European state. This reform cannot be made without everyone’s help and no party is contributing to this when they act in such a way,” he said. “The die is cast. The reform has been formulated,” he said.

“If political parties want to caress the ears of the rest, let them come and say that before the parliament”.

As regards the problems health professionals face in state hospitals, Pamboridis said that there is a gap between now and the date when hospital autonomy will be in effect.

“It is very important to focus on this period until hospital autonomy to see the everyday problems healthcare professionals face,” he said. His ministry, he said, in cooperation with state hospital staff and their unions are seeking to find alternative solutions until autonomy kicks in.

The administrative and financial autonomy of state hospitals aims to change everything in the health sector “to diminish the roots of problems”.

“Therefore, it is foolish for anyone to believe that we shouldn’t address the everyday issues healthcare professionals but mainly patients face. This struggle is not for the healthcare professionals. The struggle is for patients, but health professionals will also benefit,” Pamboridis said.

He added that the aim was the improvement of the quality of services patients receive and that through that goal the second one would have to be achieved which is the improvement of work conditions of state hospital staff.

A new healthcare system will also diminish patient waiting lists, he said.  Despite that the problem of long waiting lists was “alleviated to a great extent” through the scheme launched earlier in the year to refer state hospital patients to the private sector, he said, the problem is not resolved and the reason, “is precisely because the roots that cause problems are embedded into the outdated system we have today”.

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