By Peter Michael and Annette Chrysostomou
THE national health scheme (Gesy) is a one-way street, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday amid claims from the Cyprus Medical Association (CyMA) that the public dialogue was being poisoned to smear private doctors, and as the number of specialists’ societies rose from eight to 13.
Five medical groups on Friday added their voices to the ongoing opt-outs, something which the president said necessitated a dialogue with CyMA. He is due to meet them on Monday.
Anastasiades and CyMA representatives are expected to discuss the issue of private medical practice in conjunction with Gesy. However, Anastasiades said that a two-tier system would be discriminatory to patients. The president said that he would listen to their opinions “but they should not deviate from the provisions of the law or create a two-tier service.”
Earlier, CyMA said the public dialogue was being poisoned and was an attempt to smear and socially isolate the medical community. Earlier in the week, it denied that it was behind the unrest among private doctors.
The medical association added that it would continue to express its views on the inadequacy of the proposed national health scheme and its inability to provide quality healthcare to the patient.
CyMA said that in a public dialogue all interested parties have the right to express their opinion, and that the public references to the scheme have targetted the medical community.
“It is disappointing that the officials of the Republic have chosen to damage its medical community,” it said.
Anastasiades said recently that if private doctors were so concerned over the rates being offered to them by the state for their participation in Gesy, they were welcome to ask for the salary as stated by them in their tax returns.
CyMA addressed the comment, saying their issues with Gesy were not related to tax evasion, but to the efficient use of taxpayers’ contributions for the introduction of administrative standards, which will affect the quality of health services provided by the state to citizens.
“It is unacceptable for professional groups to be targetted by this common tactic used to disorient public opinion on the many impasses in dealing with Gesy and other reforms of the state.”
The goal, CyMA said, was to create a public health system that would be well-designed and meet the needs of the patients and the medical community.
In the midst of all the medical groups that were opting out of the plans, one private hospital, the Mediterranean Hospital of Cyprus announced Friday they would participate in Gesy.
The hospital said that it shared the core values of the scheme and that at the epicentre was the patient. It will provide complete quality to services to patients, the hospital said in its announcement.
Earlier Friday, the association of private hospitals, the oral and maxillofacial society and the association of private doctors were the three newest groups to join the ever-growing number of medical specialties who have advised their members not to back Gesy.
The association of private hospitals said they lacked sufficient data about the plan and were seriously concerned over the details that they have been given. The doctors claimed they need to continue operating to same high standards they always have and are uncertain being part of Gesy would allow that.
The vascular and endovascular surgery association announced their non-participation earlier in the day.
Their decision was publicised just hours after the radiological association announced they too are not joining the scheme.
Both associations said in statements that “the project is doomed to failure from the start”.
They both also called on all stakeholders to listen to the concerns of the medial world and make the necessary changes for Gesy to become sustainable and functional.
The vascular and endovascular association said they supported the creation of a modern and viable Gesy for the benefit of patients but expressed deep concern over “the gaps, ambiguities and, above all, the viability” of the proposed plan and the serious impact that its failure would have on the health of patients.
The private radiologists urged Gesy chiefs to pay more attention to the requirements of their medical area.
The price which has been set per medical treatment does not even cover the cost of the material and technological equipment, and thus the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) in charge of private doctors’ applications to Gesy, needs to think again, the radiologists said.
By Thursday, eight other private specialist groups had announced they would not back Gesy, rheumatologists, intensivists, urologists, nuclear medicine physicians, ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors, endocrinologists, paediatricians and gastroenterologists. Cardiologists said its members would each decide individually.