Cyprus Mail

Private practice ban on Gesy doctors could be unconstitutional

File photo

The Cyprus Medical Association (CyMA) announced on Wednesday that it would investigate whether it was unconstitutional for the government and the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) to forbid doctors to practise medicine privately and still be part of the National Health Scheme (Gesy).

Meanwhile, the HIO said on Wednesday that over 100 doctors, both general practitioners and specialist doctors, had expressed their interest in participating in the educational seminars aiming to train doctors for their integration into Gesy.

A member of the medical association’s (CyMA) council, Michalis Anastassiades, said that during Tuesday’s meeting at the presidential palace, CyMA’s legal counsellor had raised the unconstitutional nature of the rejection by President Nicos Anastasiades, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou and the HIO of a central condition from CyMA for its doctors to participate in Gesy.

The demands made by CyMA following an extraordinary general assembly in October involve allowing private doctors within Gesy to practise outside the system; the raising of the Gesy budget; full administrative and financial autonomy of state hospitals before Gesy is implemented; a guaranteed unit price for specialist doctors involved in outpatient care; and inpatient fees per medical procedure.

Though progress was made on some points, such as the HIO’s acceptance to implement a guaranteed price range that will be charged by outpatient specialist doctors, the government and HIO have remained firm in their rejection of allowing private doctors within Gesy to practise outside the system.

“It is possible that the road leads to the supreme court, but this will be judged by our legal counsellors who will study the relevant legislation,” Anastassiades said.

Anastassiades clarified that the issue of unconstitutionality arises not directly in the refusal to allow private practice outside the system, but in the refusal to allow doctors the freedom to practise the profession in general.

CyMA is also remaining firm in sticking to its conditions for members to participate in Gesy.

According to state broadcaster Cybc, a leaked message from CyMA president Petros Agathangelou to the association’s members following the meeting on Tuesday, emphatically urged members to refrain from participating in Gesy unless all demands are met.

In the leaked message, Agathangelou accused both Anastasiades and Ioannou – whom he called the ‘HIOs’ – of not making honest efforts to resolve differences, but of rather employing ‘PR tricks’.

Agathangelou clarified that he will be abstaining from Gesy on a personal level as a cardiologist, and told members that he will not be pursuing the inclusion of the rest of the members of the association.

“We remain outside Gesy for quality healthcare for patients and for the dignity of doctors,” Agathangelou told members.

On Tuesday, Agathangelou stressed that if CyMA’s demands are met, it would not be a barrier to Gesy, and denied that there are private interests involved in the association’s stance.

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