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Our View: Parties now on the defensive over Gesy

NOBODY could accuse health minister Giorgos Pamboridis of being afraid to speak out. He has been doing little else since his appointment, but with good reason. Introducing a national health scheme (Gesy) that would offer universal healthcare cover was never going to be an easy job, because it would affect the financial interests of many groups. These groups, with the support of some political parties, have been doing everything they could either to block its introduction or delay it for as long as possible.

Change is always opposed by those that have something to lose, and they would resort to all types of schemes in order to maintain the status quo (great similarities with the Cyprus settlement). In the case of Gesy, insurance companies and doctors with private practices, have made no secret of their opposition, the former recruiting the support of the employers’ federation OEV to push their case. Before them, hospital nurses threatened blocking the introduction of Gesy if they did not receive pay rises and hospital doctors followed suit.

This is how things work in Cyprus. The concept of public spirit is unheard of. Nurses and doctors’ unions, immediately seized the chance to increase their earnings, rather than try to see how they could help the introduction of Gesy that would benefit all members of society. All hospital workers followed this appalling example of selfishness. At least they secured a cash windfall within Gesy, which is in contrast with private doctors and insurance companies, whose financial interests would be best served by not having a scheme.

It is against these groups, which allegedly found party leaders to help them prevent the implementation of Gesy that Giorgos Pamboridis has been railing through his Twitter account. He saw “in progress the last-gasp attempt of the establishment to cancel Gesy. They are looking for a political leader for the role of Judas.” Reports claimed he was referring to Nicolas Papadopoulos, others to Marinos Sizopoulos, but both denied they were involved in attempts to scupper Gesy, the former accusing Disy of being behind this plot.

We do not know whether Pamboridis’ public accusations (he avoided naming anyone) were part of a strategy or an outburst of his frustration. Whatever it was, it worked very well as it put all the party leaders on the defensive, publicly pledging their commitment to the introduction of Gesy and denying they would do anything to prevent the approval of the bills for the autonomy of the hospitals, scheduled for the vote next Friday. Pamboridis’ pre-emptive strike, regardless of whether he meant it as such, has worked because no party would now dare tamper with the Gesy bills.



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