By Evie Andreou
STATE doctors who opt to work as GPs under the national health scheme (Gesy) could see their salaries go up by at least 25 per cent according to a proposal in a report commissioned by the state health service organisation (Okyy) for additional economic benefits and incentives for this group of health professionals.
The proposal, prepared by Professor Mike Pringle, suggests monetary incentives at the initial stage of Gesy for state doctors who will work as GPs and additional incentives involving both items of service payments and points accrual in subsequent years.
From June 2019, when the first phase of Gesy is expected to be implemented, Okyy will be responsible for the delivery of family doctor services by general practitioners now being employed in the public sector.
Before June 2019 all residents in Cyprus are expected to be registered with a GP from the public or private sector. General practitioners refer patients to a specialist, if necessary. The first phase of the scheme concerns outpatient care provided by GPs, specialists, pharmacies and labs.
The proposal was commissioned by Okyy after a decision to offer additional incentives to public sector GPs, as, their salaries under Gesy will be lower than those of the private sector. State doctors will be transferred from their current employment as civil servants in the health ministry to Okyy on January 1, 2019.
According to a document prepared by Okyy on additional economic benefits and incentives for personal doctors that was given to interested parties for consideration and discussion, for the first phase of Gesy, between June and December 2019, each GP would receive €10 per beneficiary registered with them. Toward that end €1.2m has been earmarked in the 2019 budget and “is equivalent of an average 25 per cent increase in salary for each of them,” the document said.
It added that the amount to be included in the budget for the subsequent years, is not going to be distributed only based on the number of beneficiaries enrolled but also on the recommendation made by Professor Pringle. According to him, Okyy should adopt a system of incentives that involves both items of service payments and points accrual, with points being allocated a monetary value depending on the overall number of points and the size of the residual incentive pool.
Among the recommendations are points based on number of registrations by banding. The proposal suggests five points for 500 to 999 registrations, 10 points for 1,000 to 1,500 and 20 points for 2,000 and over.
It also suggests 20 points for GPs working in rural areas and 40 points for those in remote areas.
Other rewards concern additional points if they are vocationally trained, if they meet the target set as regards computer entries but also receiving €2 per vaccination dose.
The head of state doctors’ union Pasyki, Soteris Koumas, told the Cyprus Mail that they welcome the fact that their employer has recognised the need for incentives but that doctors’ goal is to keep state hospitals afloat so that they can support the operation of Gesy.
He added that they were preparing their own document with their observations to be discussed at the upcoming meeting.
Even though some points in Okyy’s proposal could cause problems, he said, the union is always open to dialogue.
Last summer Pasyki, had said that a number of state doctors were considering whether they should go into private practice once Gesy kicks in due to uncertainty over their pay under the scheme. Gesy will come into full swing as of June 1, 2020 with inpatient care.