Regulations concerning the services to be provided by private personal and specialist physicians via the National Health Scheme (Gesy) were approved by the council of ministers on Tuesday.
“The regulations determine the framework in which personal and specialist physicians will work, as well as their fees, their integration with the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) and the services they will provide,” Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said after the meeting.
The next step, Ioannou said, is the swift approval of the regulations by government, after which the HIO can begin the process of interviewing doctors as to whether they want to join Gesy as personal physicians.
Regarding the regulations, Ioannou said that personal physicians, also known as family doctors or general practitioners (GPs), will be made up of pathologists, while children up to the age of 18 will be assigned to personal pediatricians, and those over the age of 60 have the option of signing up with a geriatrician.
“The name of every doctor who joins with the HIO will be made public so that each person, depending on their age, can choose their personal physician,” Ioannou said.
A patient’s first contact with Gesy will be through their personal physician, who then refers a patient to a specialist, if need be.
Every doctor can have as many as 2,500 patients registered to them personally, “though here they may be some exceptions,” Ioannou said.
The procedure by which patients register with a personal physician can be completed easily through an online system by the HIO, the minister said, while registration can also be made face to face if preferred.
“If a patient is unsatisfied by the services of their personal physician, they may choose another every six months, while children up to two years old can change pediatrician at any time,” Ioannou said.
While there are no time-limits or deadlines for when doctors should join HIO, the organisation can at any moment decide that there are enough doctors to cover the needs of patients, and cease registrations, Ioannou said.
General practitioners in the private sector would be able to enter into a contract to provide services to Gesy. If they do so, they would be classed as personal physicians.
Under the government roadmap, contributions for Gesy will begin as of March 2019.
The first phase of the scheme is to be rolled out on June 1 of the same year. This concerns outpatient care provided by personal physicians, specialists, pharmacies and labs.
Gesy will come into full swing as of June 1, 2020 with inpatient care.