President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday the raid by the Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) on the offices of the Medical Association (CyMA) was “unfortunate and unnecessary”.
The CPC found itself under fire a day after launching an on-site check at CyMA’s offices as the president, health minister and most political parties disapproved of the probe, raising questions over the rationale behind it.
The commission, however, that reportedly left no stone unturned at the CyMA offices and collected documents and electronic files, said it would continue its investigations. Doctors are threatening legal measures.
A presidency announcement said that Anastasiades, as soon as he set foot back on the island from his trip in Switzerland, requested a briefing by the CPC on its decision to investigate CyMA.
The CPC carried out an on-site check at the offices of CyMA on Tuesday over decisions and actions the association had taken urging members not to join Gesy. Reports said the CPC is focusing on references to and characterisations by the association’s leadership against doctors who expressed their intention of joining Gesy.
If it is deemed that any action restricted competition and prevented doctors participating in Gesy, CyMA could face steep fines.
Anastasiades said in a tweet on Wednesday he respected trade union freedoms and the legal provisions concerning the establishment and operation of Gesy, nor did he ignore the independence and responsibilities of the CPC.
But he remained strongly critical of the raid.
“I find the commission’s initiative to probe CyMA, completely unnecessary.”
The presidency later repeated the president’s criticism.
Gesy, the announcement said, is a social conquest embraced by all and its implementation should not be marred by any coercive measures.
“That is why any measures that tend to affect the free will of healthcare providers or any citizen, finds the President of the Republic strictly opposed to such initiatives,” the announcement said.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou also expressed his opposition to CPC actions. He said in a tweet that the probe “creates unnecessary tension” in the midst of the great reform effort of implementing Gesy.
CyMA’s spokesman, Dr Haris Armeftis said they were surprised by the CPC’s move since the association advocates the same principles as the commission and was in favour or fair competition.
Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC radio, Armeftis said the CPC would not find anything in the cupboards it sealed off on Tuesday at the association’s offices.
He added that more than 800 doctors have so far joined the private healthcare platform comprised of physicians and hospitals that opted not to join Gesy.
Later in the day CyMA, in a statement, called on the government to explain exactly how Gesy promotes competition among healthcare providers given the levelling compensation it provides.
The irony is that private doctors, CyMA said, “are called by the state to join a state monopoly system and have to compete unequally with Okypy (state health services organisation) which operates with coverage by the state in cases of deficit.” Private sector doctors don’t have such access, CyMA said.
Despite being lambasted, the CPC said on Wednesday it would carry on with the probe.
The head of the CPC, Loukia Christodoulou told Politis radio the committee’s concern was to have a competitive market mood in place. CyMA, she said, should not be offended by the probe since it is the CPC’s duty.