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Our View: Healthcare that is good enough for the masses really should be good enough for politicians too

Referrals to specialist doctors in public hospitals scheduled between June 1 and August 31, 2019 will be carried out as already arranged

We hope former President Demetris Christofias makes a speedy recovery. He has been offered the best possible care by the state medical services while on Tuesday the health ministry announced that a doctor specialising in the treatment of infections would be coming from abroad to see the former president. The specialist “in cooperation with the doctors of the Nicosia General Hospital would decide the next steps for the treatment of the patient,” the health ministry said.

On Monday night, after Christofias was moved to the intensive care unit because of respiratory problems, he was visited by President Anastasiades, who apart from offering his wishes for a quick recovery said he gave instructions for any request by his family either for the opinion of other doctors or for him to be sent abroad to be examined. The first request had obviously been granted, hence the ministry announcement about the arrival of a consultant from abroad.

This may sound insensitive, but the special healthcare offered to politicians with health problems by the state makes a mockery of the democratic principle of equal treatment of citizens. Would the family of some hapless unknown individual suffering the same health problems as the former president be asked if it wanted the health ministry to fly in a specialist for a second opinion or for the patient to be taken to a hospital abroad? Of course not. There is a procedure for sending a patient abroad, with a medical council having to examine the request and give approval, based mainly on whether treatment could be offered in Cyprus.

Of course, these rules do not apply to politicians. They go abroad to top hospitals for treatment at the taxpayers’ expense even if they could be treated here. President Anastasiades went to the US for heart surgery even though the operation could have been performed in Cyprus and Christofias did the same while he was a party leader. A health minister in the Clerides government went abroad for routine knee surgery, not considering that this showed a complete lack of trust in the state medical services which he was in charge of.

This is the other issue raised by politicians being sent abroad for medical treatment even when they can be treated in Cyprus. Not only do they show a lack of trust in the healthcare system of Cyprus, but also believe they have a right to be treated by the best doctors abroad at the taxpayers’ expense, a right that ordinary people do not have. Healthcare that is good enough for the masses is simply not good enough for our illustrious politicians, even though our state is supposed to treat all its citizens as equals.

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