An amendment to the law which would prevent the Cyprus Medical Association (CyMA) from stopping the employment of foreign doctors in the National Health Scheme (Gesy) will be tabled on Friday by the Citizens Alliance, its president Giorgos Lillikas said on Monday.
Following CyMA’s decision last week to officially call on its members to refrain from joining Gesy, the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) – in charge of implementing Gesy – has intensified efforts towards processing various contingency plans ahead of implementing Gesy in June.
Should Cypriot doctors, and especially those in primary healthcare, refuse to participate, the HIO will on the basis of a European directive call for doctors from other EU countries.
Following speculations that this would include bringing in doctors from Greece, CyMA’s deputy head, Marios Karaiskakis, warned on Friday that the association has the authority to refuse to grant medical licences if it deems it would threaten local physicians.
“In other words, are they telling us they would bring in strike-breakers?” Karaiskakis told Alpha TV on Friday.
In response, Lillikas said on Monday that an amendment to current legislation to be tabled on Friday will seek to open the market to foreign doctors, claiming that current legislation is prone to “exploitation so that the health sector is kept hostage to the interests of some”.
Later on Monday, CyMA announced that 37 of its 43 member medical associations have ratified the decision of its medical board not to back Gesy.
The medical societies in question, CyMa said, expressed their support and solidarity with the association’s medical board.
In the wake of CyMA’s call to boycott Gesy, citing the refusal of the government to allow doctors who join Gesy to also practise privately, the HIO has launched a new information campaign, targeting doctors of different medical specialities.
The move follows requests by doctors themselves to be better informed regarding the procedure for their participation in Gesy and their fees.
The HIO has also been busy developing several other contingency plans for possible scenarios that may disrupt efforts to implement Gesy.
For example, as shown by the registrations of doctors to the training seminars organised by the HIO in the coming days, a shortage of doctors signing up for Gesy is more likely among paediatricians rather than general practitioners for adults.
As such, the HIO is developing a possible solution which will reduce the age until which minors visit paediatricians from 15 to 14 or 13 years old.
The HIO is also considering cooperating more closely with the organisation of state health services (Okypy) in view of using their facilities.
The cooperation with private hospitals was also considered, though this seems unlikely following the firm rejection on Saturday by the association of private hospitals (Pasin) to join Gesy.
Pasin likened joining Gesy to “jumping into the abyss”, after the group’s spokesman, who had said they were ready to enter into dialogue with the government, resigned on Friday.
The full list of the 37 medical specialities refusing to join Gesy are: the pulmonary medical society, that of physical medicine and rehabilitation, pathologists, haematologists, gynaecologists and obstetricians, nephrologists, radiologists, neurosurgeons, rheumatologists, urologists, orthopaedic surgeons and traumatologists, nuclear medicine doctors, plastic surgeons, neurologists, acupuncturists, biopathologists – microbiologists, otorhinolaryngologists, dermatologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, thoracic surgeons, vascular and intravascular surgeons, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, paediatricians, endocrinologists, colposcopy and cervical pathologists, perinatal doctors, general physicians, ophthalmologists, intensivists, hypertension specialists, forensic pathologists, family doctors, diabeticians, child psychiatrists, paediatric surgeons and anaesthesiologists.