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‘No more excuses to block health scheme bills’, minister says

Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis

The signing of a deal on Thursday between the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) and IT company NCR Cyprus for the development of a software programme for Gesy, means no more excuses for those blocking laws for the national health scheme, Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis said.

The HIO said it had signed a seven-year contract for the development of the software ater repeated attempts since 2007 to secure an integrated IT system for Gesy with at least three tenders called and scrapped.

According to the head of the HIO, Thomas Antoniou, the total estimate of the seven-year project is €39.6m of which €11.3m will be given for the development of the software system and €28.3m for the services of NCR for five and a half years. The development costs will be funded by 85 per cent from the European Union’s Structural Funds.

“The software system will be the backbone of Gesy, as it will be accessed both by beneficiaries and healthcare providers to obtain information, register with the system, but also for carrying out many basic works concerning Gesy,” Antoniou said.

The first phase of the project which concerns outpatient care services will be delivered within 14 months, Antoniou said, and phase two, which concerns the remaining services, among them inpatient care and ambulances, is to be delivered four months later. The contract provides for a six-month extension if necessary.

“These timeframes are in line with the plans for the gradual implementation of Gesy, based on the unanimous decision of the political leaders, and provide for the opportunity for it to be tested and delivered on time before June 1, 2019 when first phase of Gesy will be introduced,” he said.

He added that the Gesy is designed by top consultants, and it includes the best practices of health systems within the EU “and at the same time it is adjusted to Cypriot reality”.

Cyprus, he said, is the only EU member state without an integrated health system and as a result people “experience hardship, are humiliated and ruined financially”.

“The excuse of many who were citing the non-existence of a software programme as inability to implement Gesy, is no more,” Pamboridis said.

He added that the government had done its bit – saw the two bills on hospital autonomy and Gesy tabled to the House and the award of the contract for the software programme – and now it was up to the political parties to approve the bills.

“We are just two months away from the deadline they had set – they had said they want the bill on hospital autonomy and Gesy to be voted by June 1, 2017,” Pamporidis said.

He added that the two bills were sent to the House in mid-October.

Pamboridis urged political parties “to stop concentrating on details and look at the bigger picture and to approve the bills for the introduction of Gesy to be set in motion”.

The minister said however, that If the amendments made by parliament on the two bills change the content too much, the government would not hesitate withdrawing them. “These bills are the result of lengthy consultations with all stakeholders and the outcome of a social agreement between political parties”.

Commenting on the negotiations on contributions, he said that at the moment they are at a standstill following the demand earlier of the month of the public service union Pasydy for free healthcare for its members under Gesy, and the announcement of the Chamber of Commerce (Keve) that it would withdraw from discussions unless the union retracted its demand. “One more initiative will be made (to resolve the issue) so that the parliament will make a decision based on the data before it,” Pamboridis said.

The general manager of NCR Cyprus, Kyriacos Kyriacou, said that his company is ready to get to work as of “tomorrow”. He added that for the development of the software, would  be used the most technologically advanced solution in Cyprus.


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Source: Cyprus News Agency


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