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Cabinet accepts health chief’s resignation (updated)

Sir David Nicholson

The cabinet on Thursday accepted the resignation of the chairman of the board of the state health services organisation (Okypy), Sir David Nicholson, who decided to step down over allegations of conflict of interest.

The announcement was made by Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou following the meeting.

In his February 27 letter, Nicholson spoke of an orchestrated attack against him by institutions he thought should be supporting such a massive reform and not place obstacles.

Ioannou said a legal opinion by the attorney-general said Nicholson should not be employed by organisations, which are related to his activities.

“The attorney-general’s view is fully respected but, in any case, it was preceded by Mr. Nicholson’s letter of resignation, which has been accepted,” the minister said. “Now, we will go ahead and look at other names with the aim of having proposals during the next cabinet meeting.”

The minister did not rule out hiring a foreign national again but someone from Cyprus would be preferable since they will be better informed.

Nicholson’s departure would not change anything in the process of making state hospitals autonomous, Ioannou said.

“The planning has been done and now we are in the realisation phase,” he said.

Ioannou added that Nicholson’s opinion had a particular weight but the board will continue to function.

“We do not depend on individuals.”

Nicholson, who assumed his duties a little over a year ago, in December 2017, had sent a letter of resignation to President Nicos Anastasiades.

He has been under fire by opposition parties over an alleged conflict of interest concerning himself and his wife.

Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides had also asked the cabinet earlier in the year to examine a possible conflict of interest citing a legal opinion by the attorney-general.

An audit service report showed that Nicholson had not stated all his business affiliations when applying for the position and as required by law.

The law states that Okypy members have a conflict of interest if they are linked to “any businesses dealing with health issues”. Okypy members are also required to state the interests of up to fourth-degree relatives.

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