Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said Friday the state intended to ensure private hospitals would remain viable inside the national health system (Gesy), a day after they accepted a framework agreement for joining.
Seeking to allay concerns voiced by members of the private hospitals’ association, Pasin, the minister said, “it is also our intention to ensure private hospitals would remain viable and robust organisations inside Gesy.”
As a further step to reassure Pasin, Ioannou said he would be also signing the memorandum between the health insurance organisation (HIO), the state body tasked with overseeing Gesy, and Pasin.
“The memorandum’s conditions will then be incorporated in the form of a contract which will be signed by HIO and individual private hospitals that will choose to join the system,” Ioannou said.
On Thursday, Pasin agreed on a memorandum of understanding as a basis for negotiations between each of its members – clinics and hospitals – and the HIO.
Pasin said their acceptance of the memorandum is contingent on the state providing the necessary guarantees.
The health minister said the memorandum was a good basis that met most of Pasin’s demands without creating the risk of complications for HIO’s budget.
Ioannou declined to disclose details on how the government was planning on providing the guarantees Pasin had asked for, saying they aimed to resolve the matter next week.
What is important is “observance of the financial terms stemming from the agreement that each hospital will sign,” he said.
“It is also important to note that guarantees will be afforded not only by the fact that I, as the political head, will sign the memorandum, but also by the fact that the terms of the memorandum will be incorporated in the contracts.”
Failure to observe the terms gives private hospitals the right to seek legal recourse, he said.
However, “to allay any concerns, we are processing certain other plans that will be announced in the coming days.”
HIO chief Thomas Antoniou said the implementation timeframe was defined by the memorandum.
Private hospitals interested in joining Gesy must express interest by February 15 so that separate negotiations can start. By May 31 the sides should have agreed on the individual budgets for each hospital.
The second phase of Gesy, with the participation of private hospitals, is planned for June.
The agreement was welcomed by President Nicos Anastasiades who took the opportunity to urge political parties to cooperate on pushing other important reforms.
“I want to express certainty that this decision will lead to the full implementation of this historic reform for our country,” Anastasiades said in a written statement.
“I feel proud because the preparatory work by the government and the effective cooperation with political powers, has made it possible, after decades of inactivity, to realise this radical reform whose benefits the people are already feeling.”