By Evie Andreou
Rumours that five private hospitals would not join the National Health System (Gesy) are inaccurate, Health Minister, Constantinos Ioannou said on Friday following a call by the association of private hospitals (Pasin) for consultations with the government over the financial terms of such cooperation.
The minister also said the fact that a large fund manager based abroad had expressed interest in acquiring private hospitals in Cyprus was proof of the positive prospects that lie ahead.
Ioannou met on Friday with representatives of the social alliance for the implementation of Gesy, consisting of patients’ associations and trade unions.
Following the meeting, he reiterated that the goal remained the implementation of Gesy as has been unanimously passed by parliament last year. “The introduction that is of outpatient care on June 1, 2019 and of inpatient care on June 1, 2020.”
The minister also expressed optimism that the call by Pasin for consultations with the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) as to the financial terms concerning their participation would lead to them taking the “right decisions” after receiving proper information.
He had said earlier in the week that proper information on the private medical sector was imperative as there had been a lot of misinformation.
Ioannou also said rumours that have been spread this week by doctors and owners of private clinics that five private hospitals would not join Gesy had been proven inaccurate.
“Not only is this not true, but the position of private hospitals is to have consultations and to proceed with the discussion with the HIO so that the financial data can be further clarified as they were released a month ago,” he said.
On the interest of a large fund manager in private hospitals in Cyprus, he said that he was not mistaken, one hospital had already signed a preliminary agreement.
“I wonder how it is possible that a fund managing billions has come from abroad and evaluated and want to buy private hospitals if the prospect was negative as some people think, why should someone now buy a private hospital?” he asked.
Obviously, he said, for someone to buy or invest in private hospitals means that they see the better economic returns they will have in the future.
Pasin on Friday said in a written statement that they do support the introduction of Gesy but expressed concerns that the data presented to them so far by the HIO did not help them see the “whole picture based on which private hospitals will decide whether to join Gesy or not.”
On the contrary, they said, based on information they had so far, “it seems that the participation of private hospitals in Gesy would lead to a substantial downgrade of the quality of health services they provide and/or lead to the termination of their operations.”
Pasin have also requested a plan by the government to avoid unfair competition during the next five years when state hospitals will be backed financially by the state. The goal is for financial and administrative autonomy of state hospitals, which is a prerequisite for the operation of Gesy, but this will be made gradually.
Ioannou said that he had yet to receive the response of the medical association (CyMA) to his and the HIO’s reply concerning some of the demands it had put forward in order to back Gesy.
CyMA announced some two weeks ago that all talks with the government were at an end until it received an official response to their set of demands for participating in Gesy.
Representatives of the association said earlier in the week CyMA would respond to the minister and HIO and that they would first inform their members before announcing their next steps.