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Health minister dismisses scaremongering over resignation of state doctors

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou

The national health scheme Gesy will go ahead as scheduled and there is no reason to worry about the resignation of state doctors, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Sunday.

Speaking at a memorial event, Ioannou said, in response to questions, that Gesy would be implemented according to the timetables and legislation. “On June 1 we start with the first phase of the Gesy,” he said. “In order for there to be any change to this plan, there would have be a change of the law by the House, and that’s not our plan.”

In response to government doctors  concerning their intention to take legal action against the state health services for transferring them under the jurisdiction of the state health services, Okypy, Ioannou said doctors had been part of the consultations since 2016 when it had been agreed on how the law on  hospital autonomy would go ahead and how doctors’ rights would be safeguarded.

He also said there was also an opinion from the Attorney-general on the validity of the law.

Asked to comment on state doctors’ resignations, the minister rejected claims by state doctors’ union Pasyki that vacancies were not being filled, saying that 34 new posts had been announced three weeks ago.

“Whatever positions are vacant, they are immediately announced,” Ioannou said.

“Let me stress here that what is said about doctors leaving because a month ago there were numerous reports about the mass flight of the doctors. Three doctors left. This is within the normal range. Every year doctors leave for a variety of reasons. We have 825 doctors and personally I expected that more would be leaving for private practice. There is no cause for concern.”

On Friday the head of Pasyki, Sotiris Koumas, said doctors were informed by their legal adviser that any transfer to Okypy would be an unacceptable intervention in their labour rights. The union also has qualms with Okypy’s right to intervene on their behalf over issues and cooperation with the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO).

“There is a chance that doctors, who will head to court, will not have to part of the national health scheme, if they win,” he said.  Koumas said that the union began to inform its members on their right to head to court over the transfer to Okypy.

He added that the union is only seeking to have its questions answered and hold a dialogue over this issue to receive their clarifications.

Also on Friday the cabinet approved on Friday a proposal to appoint the former Bank of Cyprus oncology head Alecos Stamati, as the head of Okypy. Stamati will replace Sir David Nicholson as Okypy head, after the latter resigned in February. His appointment to the position will last until May 1, 2023, the ministry said.

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