Monday was the first day for private doctors to say they want to register to work as family physicians (GPs) and paediatricians under the National Health Scheme (Gesy) with authorities saying they were optimistic over the levels of interest.
Doctors will have three months to express their interest in registering with Gesy.
Officials of the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO), which will implement and manage Gesy, appear optimistic as to the number of doctors who will sign up to register despite the call from more than 30 medical association on their members not to join the health scheme.
Following a meeting between President Nicos Anastasiades, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou and members of the Patients and Friends Federation (Posfp), Ioannou said that there had also been interest by doctors from other countries, mainly Greece due to the salaries offered which he said are much higher than in Greece.
He said he did not know if this would result in a mass arrival of Greek doctors but his ministry’s intention, he said, was not to bring in doctors from abroad but get those in Cyprus to join Gesy.
Ioannou said that there has been great interest from local doctors and that HIO would announce the first numbers within the coming days.
Around 300 doctors have reportedly signed up for the seminars offered by HIO to inform them on how to submit their expression of interest to register as GPs. Seminar participation is not a prerequisite to do so and HIO officials appear optimistic that more doctors could sign up to work as GPs.
The minister reiterated his conviction that most private doctors would join Gesy at a later stage, as in other countries that introduced a national health scheme.
“There is no health scheme introduced recently that saw all doctors join from the first day,” Ioannou said.
Usually, he said, a percentage of doctors join initially while the majority follows within the year.
“We expect the same also in our case,” Ioannou said.
The minister said that the registering procedure is for private doctors only, as all state doctors will join Gesy, through the Organisation of State Health Services (Okypy).
From the beginning of the year, the financial and administrative supervision of state hospitals has been transferred to Okypy, which is tasked with the management, control, supervision and development of public hospitals and primary health care centres. Late last December, all medical and paramedical professionals working in state hospitals were seconded to Okypy.
Initially, Ioannou said, Okypy will integrate around 150 doctors currently working in the state health centres into Gesy as GPs.
In response to a question on whether doctors currently working in accident and emergency (A&E) departments of state hospitals could apply to work as GPs, Ioannou said that Okyy would decide based on needs in which services it would assign staff.
State doctors’ union Pasyki are concerned that if many state doctors signed up as GPs, it would disrupt the smooth operation of hospital departments and A&Es.
“It is the employer (Okypy) that will decide to which services doctors currently working (in state hospitals) will go,” Ioannou said.
Ioannou said that Anastasiades, during the meeting, reaffirmed the government’s determination to boost state hospitals. He said that the 2019 budget of the now autonomous hospitals, is for growth and provides for new jobs for doctors and nurses. It also provides for the tripling of the budget for equipment.
Private doctors will have to create an account at the Gesy website, and after filling out the expression of interest form they have to send all necessary documents by post.
After their documents have been checked, they will be given contracts to sign.
At the beginning of March, a call will be made for Gesy beneficiaries to register officially on the lists of doctors who will work as GPs. Phase one of Gesy, which is outpatient care, will start in June.
Gesy will come into full swing as of June 1, 2020 with inpatient care.
From March 1, wage-earners, pensioners, income-earners and state officials will start contributing 1.7 per cent of their income, employers 1.85 per cent, the state 1.65 per cent and the self-employed 2.55 per cent.
A few months before the second phase, on March 1, 2020, wage-earners, pensioners, income-earners, and state officials contributing 2.65 per cent of their income, employers 2.9 per cent, the state 4.7 per cent, and the self-employed 4 per cent.
For more information on Gesy may be found at www.gesy.org.cy or call 17000.
People living abroad may call +357 22017000