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Cyprus

Minister ‘shocked’ at doctors refusing to help out

Doctors threatening to quit when they were asked to work in the Nicosia general hospital’s intensive care unit during a time of urgent need was one of the most shocking things he has seen in his time in the post, Health Minister Yiorgos Pamboridis said on Tuesday.

Giving an overview of the ministry since he took over in 2015 until today, Pamboridis said he was shocked when a few months ago, educated and trained specialists in intensive care refused to help out at the Nicosia general hospital’s department.

Their reasons were that they had been hired to different specialties. However Pamboridis said it did not honour the medical profession that doctors refused to work for a month or two in a specific department, threatening they would quit if they were asked.

In a bid to solve the problem, the government is in negotiations with the government of Greece, he added.

Asked if the doctors in question would face consequences for their lack of cooperation, Pamboridis specified the goal is to solve the problem at the hospital’s intensive care unit and not punish those involved.

Nonetheless, important steps to reform the health sector have taken place and in 17 months from now, all legal residents in Cyprus will have free health care, he added.

In three to five years, hospitals will be fully autonomous while the move to appoint the eight-member board of the newly-established organisation of state health services (Okyy) is an indication of “moving from theory to practise.”

Commenting on the state doctors’ union Pasyki after it reacted to bringing in doctors from Greece and Israel for specialties for which there are no doctors in Cyprus, Pamboridis simply said the union reacts to any decisions taken by the government and questioned why a trade union should ever need to approve a procedure that would bring in a paediatric neurosurgeon from abroad to operate on a patient in Cyprus.
Pamboridis nevertheless heralded a reduction in waiting lists after services were purchased from the private sector adding that an e-health bill was heading to parliament which would introduce digital medical records.

Furthermore, Cyprus is the only country in the EU which lacks a national pharmaceutical authority and thus, legislation to create it is being examined by the legal services which is also looking at a bill on university clinics, where students and academics can cooperate with professionals working at the general hospitals.

A new price list for medicines set to be implemented on April 1 will be published within the next few days while operations for a new dialysis unit at Nicosia general hospital and an upgrade of the Makarios children’s hospital intensive care unit are set to be ready shortly, Pamboridis said.

The minister added the 2018 budget also includes provision for a new building for the state laboratory.

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