Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis said on Wednesday that the head of the medical association (CyMA), Petros Agathangelou had tried last June to get main opposition Akel to reject the bills on the national health scheme (Gesy) that were to be tabled at the House plenum a few days later.
Pamboridis hit back at critics of his comments a day earlier that he was shocked by the refusal of state doctors to help out when they were asked to work in the Nicosia general hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) which is understaffed.
State doctors and CyMA said that the minister was acting as if he owned the public health sector and that he keeps blaming doctors for the problems faced by state hospitals. They also said that despite the fact they had asked him some two months ago to call a meeting to discuss the problems at the ICU, he did not respond but announced instead that he was to bring in doctors from Greece.
The head of socialist party Edek, Marinos Sizopoulos, speaking on state broadcaster CyBC, criticised the government for its actions, which he said has led to the current situation in state hospitals.
This prompted Pamboridis to hit back at his critics, saying that since July 2015 when he assumed office, he had been doing what political parties and other administrations did not do as regards the introduction of Gesy.
To avoid criticism, Pamporidis said, “we too could do nothing just like the previous administrations”.
Sizopoulos said that he had backed Pamboridis in his efforts as regards the introduction of Gesy, but complained that when he was accused of trying to undermine the effort, Pamboridis did not back him.
In response, the minister said that he had informed Sizopoulos that some quarters were trying to make him look like he was trying to undermine the bills in question due to an amendment he had suggested.
When Sizopoulos said he was not aware who was behind this, Pamboridis said that the head of CyMA, Agathangelou, “had approached Akel and told them that he was bringing to the table a proposal by political parties – naming them – so that the vote on the bills does not take place”.
He added that Agathangelou had used the name of Diko leader Nikolas Papadopoulos and Sizopoulos’ to get Akel to reject the bills.
Agathangelou rejected the claims however, saying that CyMA, did not act as a mediator between anyone and had simply informed political parties of their pledges relating to Gesy at the time.
“I will not accept from anyone that CyMa does not want Gesy,” he said.
CyMA and state doctors said they would hold a press conference on Thursday to answer Pamboridis’ criticism. They are also to reportedly announce measures.
Later on Wednesday, Pamboridis, in a sarcastic mood, tweeted that he had not realised the past two and a half years that private doctors and CyMA had always wanted Gesy for the benefit of the patient. “If that’s the case why so much hate you guys? It seems we want the same thing after all. No?” the minister’s tweet said.
Last June, a few days before the vote at the plenum on the Gesy bills, Pamboridis had tweeted that there was a “last-ditch effort in progress by the establishment to scupper the scheme. They are seeking a political leader to play the role of Judas. They probably found him … “
He had not name who he meant at the time although Disy MP Costas Constantinou had said that Diko and Edek had enlisted Agathangelou, to persuade Akel, but without any success, to back this as well. Diko and Edek had dismissed the claims as slander.
Following years of haggling, parliament last June passed three government bills and regulations introducing Gesy, which after a gradual implementation, is expected to be in full swing by July 1, 2020.