Cyprus Mail
Cyprus Health

Minister and doctors put differences aside for now

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou

By Evie Andreou

State doctors and the health minister have put their differences aside for now to resolve the problems plaguing public hospitals, the head of union Pasyki, Soteris Koumas said on Thursday.

Following a meeting with the minister, Constantinos Ioannou, the head of the state doctors’ union Pasyki, said that the two sides would intensify dialogue and communicate on a daily basis in a bid to resolve the problems in public hospitals. The meeting was also attended by the head of the state medical services, which is the department in charge of state hospitals.

The minister will monitor progress every fortnight, Koumas said, and issue guiding lines accordingly.

“What’s important to us is that the dialogue was launched today. Both sides, we put differences aside and we sat at the dialogue table,” Koumas said.

He added that everyone would be judged for the results of this dialogue.

“I must say that the dialogue was carried out in an honest, positive climate,” he said.

Koumas also said that it has been agreed that they would meet with the minister every two weeks to assess progress or lack of and discuss what else needs to be done.

“We feel that through this dialogue, some measures will truly start being implemented which will reinforce state hospitals even more so that they can become the backbone of the autonomy and the National Health Scheme to the benefit of patients,” he said.

The meeting comes after much turbulence in the public healthcare sector, following the death of a 10-year-old boy, the subsequent arrest of two Larnaca hospital doctors that face charges of causing death through a reckless or dangerous act and reckless and negligent actions and a two-hour work stoppage last week by Pasyki members.

The day before the meeting, the union had sent Ioannou a letter asking him to make sure they had nothing to do with his ministry’s permanent secretary, Christina Yiannaki, over their dissatisfaction with the way she had handled the probe into the boys’ death that led to the arrest of their two colleagues.

To top it all up, President Nicos Anastasiades had said on the same day that he respects trade unions but that he would not allow the state to turn into a “fiefdom of trade unions”. On the one hand, he said, doctors say they respect the investigation on the boy’s death and on the other hand, they try to influence the investigations either through their “unacceptable two-hour strike or through their announcement concerning Yiannaki.

Koumas refrained from commenting if the issue concerning Yiannaki had been resolved.

On the president’s statements, Koumas said that his union will keep that Anastasiades said he respects trade unions., and that he agrees that the death of the 10-year-old should be a lesson to all so as to avoid similar incidents in the future.

“We have said the same thing ourselves. We chose to highlight this to society through the two-hour work stoppage,” Koumas said.

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