By Evie Andreou
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou gave reassurances on Wednesday that enough private doctors will join the National Health Scheme (Gesy) for it to operate successfully, even as urologists joined five other private medical specialities opting out of the scheme.
Following opt-out announcements in recent weeks from nuclear medicine physicians, ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors, endocrinologists, paediatricians and gastroenterologists, urologists said on Wednesday they too would not join Gesy.
The group of specialists said that they found gaps and inconsistencies based on information they had received so far concerning Gesy and expressed fears that they would not be able to continue to provide high-quality services to their patients.
In a letter to the head of the medical association (CyMA), the chairman of the urology medical society, Stavros Charalambous, said that there was no provision “for compensation for the cost of the already purchased expensive urological equipment that needs to be included in the system and there is no provision for maintenance and replacement costs.”
Additionally, he said, there was no provision for the expenditure on state-of-the-art materials and implants required for urological operations.
“There is no provision for the participation in the cost of the most important project for the continuous updating and lifelong education of urologists needed to preserve the quality of our services and which up to now is based only on the educational and scientific programme of the Urological Society,” he said.
But speaking after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Ioannou said that he had received reassurances from the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) that a sufficient number of private doctors would participate in Gesy to ensure its smooth operation.
He expressed, however, bewilderment over developments, saying that CyMA – the body representing all private doctors – has yet to submit its final answer on whether it would back Gesy but individual specialist medical associations were making announcements regardless.
Cardiologists, despite not being fully on board, said last week each would decide for themselves individually.
“We see instead various scientific societies making announcements on how the demands of the (CyMA) general assembly have not been satisfied,” the minister said. “I disagree.”
He said that many of the demands of private doctors have been satisfied.
“The financial part, at least, has been satisfied to a great extent,” he said.
The minister put these developments down to misinformation within the medical world. For that reason, he said, HIO is to launch within the coming days another effort to inform private doctors.
“I hope there is a turnout, because, until now, there has been no turnout to get informed,” he said.
The House health committee on Friday expressed concerns after the Cyprus Society of Nuclear Medicine became the fifth group of private specialist doctors to announce they would not participate in Gesy.
The head of the committee, Disy’s Costas Constantinou, said that they were monitoring developments and would act accordingly. The Disy deputy blamed CyMA for these developments. He said that it seemed that everything was “orchestrated and pre-decided by some within CyMA”.
CyMA secretary, Anastasia Symeou, said last week that they would announce their decision soon.
Private doctors fear the financial package they are being offered to participate in Gesy is not enough of an incentive. The government last month refused to increase the Gesy budget, one of five conditions set by CyMA for participating in the health scheme.
In a related development, the HIO on Wednesday announced that, as of January 21, it will be accepting applications by private doctors who would like to register as GPs in Gesy.