A group of 16 state doctors have threatened to quit their government jobs after promises of increased pay were not met, their union Pasyki said on Thursday.
According to Pasyki head Soteris Koumas, all 16 doctors work as general practitioners (GPs) in state health centres in the Nicosia district.
In their letter, the doctors referred to promises given to public sector doctors on financial incentives which, they said, proved to be untrue.
They also referred to the pay gap between them and private doctors who joined the national health system Gesy as GPs. A public sector GP with around 1,000 registered patients earns on average €55,000 a year, while the income of a private GP with the same number of patients is around €120,000.
According to Koumas, the doctors’ main grievance is the additional amount approved by cabinet last July to be given to public sector GPs depending on the number of patients they have registered on their lists. The physicians do not consider this incentive to be representative of the work they are doing.
“They feel they have been taken for a ride,” Koumas told the Cyprus Mail.
He said the problem lies in that the incentive in question was announced by the government before consultations with doctors’ unions were concluded.
He added that next week will be critical as they are expected to hold consultations with the government on the matter.
“In case the dialogue does not bode well, the 16 doctors will walk out,” he said.
He added that each of these 16 doctors have around 1,500 patients enrolled on their lists which would mean thousands would be left without GPs if they walked out.
The difficult work conditions have also led many physicians to leave state hospitals.
According to Koumas, 20 physicians alone have resigned from the state hospitals’ accident and emergency (A&E) departments.
But state doctors’ employer Okypy said later in the day that comparing the income of public sector GPs with those in the private sector is both unfortunate and unfair, arguing that fixed wages and pensions should be taken into account in the public sector doctors’ pay, as well as operating and other expenses for staffing and equipment, professional permanence and much more.
In an announcement, Okypy said that the flight of physicians from the public sector to join Gesy as private doctors “remains a major challenge” which it seeks to manage in the best possible way. In this context it said that it implements a plan of financial and other professional incentives aimed at ensuring the adequate staffing of health centres with GPs. This plan will be re-evaluated at the end of the year, it said.
It also referred to its “well-known efforts to attract doctors even from abroad to fill vacancies” in other departments of state hospitals.
Trade union Pasyki had said earlier in the month they were sick and tired of waiting for those in charge to address serious understaffing issues at state hospitals and that they needed at least 61 more physicians in state hospitals.
The union had said that Okypy failed to address and prevent the flight of doctors from state hospitals and as a result more physicians were walking out.