Lab owners are complaining that they will be at a disadvantage over other healthcare professionals under the national health scheme (Gesy).
One of them is medical laboratory director Pavlos Neophytou, who also says some tests which should be definitely included in a list of services available at low cost under the new health scheme are not.
According to Neophytou, at present women can choose to directly visit a private lab to undertake their Pap smear test or a test for a genital infection and pay for it, while women who are eligible for cheap treatment at governmental hospitals may go there and obtain the service at very low cost – for example €6 for a gynaecologist to take a sample and €1 for each test.
Under Gesy, it is proposed all healthcare professionals who register will be able to offer their usual services and be paid by the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO).
“For this purpose, the organisation has come to a preliminary agreement with the Association of Clinical Laboratories and a list of tests has been prepared and sent to the parliament for approval,” Neophytou said.
The problem, according to the lab director, is that the list of services which all healthcare professionals can offer at a low price does not include gynaecological examination and sampling, Pap smear tests and HPV DNA tests which screen for cervical cancer.
“The HPV DNA test, which is in line with the European guidelines and the most effective cervical cancer prevention test, is not even on the list of analyses to be covered by the Gesy,” Neophytou exclaimed. “Therefore, a woman wishing to undergo the test recommended by the European Commission as the most effective should pay for it herself.”
Currently, a woman in the private sector may choose to obtain the above services at places such as his lab, which offers both the gynaecological exam and the tests.
According to Neophytou, given that HIO has included gynaecological examination and sampling only in the list of services by medical gynaecologists and not all healthcare professionals, this means that the Health Insurance Organisation is illegally limiting this service only to them.
The gynaecologists decide which tests are necessary under Gesy, then get to decide which lab they are going to send the smears to.
“This is unconstitutional because it prevents me from continuing this regular business, something that I have been doing legally for decades. It is also illegal because it limits the choice of women as to whom they want to be their gynaecological examiner and sampler,” he said.
“HIO must make an independent list of healthcare professionals who take smears and allow women to choose who they want to take their smear to.”
Regarding women who believe they have a possible genital infection, the current law specifies that a lab can do tests without a referral by a medical doctor, and Neophytou believes Gesy should continue to follow this.