General practitioners (GPs) within the national health scheme (Gesy) complained on Monday that the health minister and the health insurance organisation (HIO) had not informed them of a potential pay cut as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.
In a letter to the HIO and the health minister, the Forum of GPs under Gesy, said they had only learned through the media that the HIO was considering pay cuts.
“For the minister to state there will be pay cuts to general practitioners with unsubstantiated evidence on the reasons and to be informed by the media of these intentions of HIO without any scientific support, is at least unfortunate on his part,” the group said.
The GPs said the HIO and the minister have been informed improperly about the work the doctors have been doing since the lockdown.
They said during the coronavirus lockdown they continued to work, and for some GPs their workload doubled.
“In many cases we were called to conduct a home visit, and to examine emergency situations, where the patient could not be aided by any hospital emergency department,” said the letter addressed to Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou.
They also had to deal with the added stress, depression and traumatic experiences of patients dealing with the lockdown conditions or self-isolating.
“So our work has expanded in this area and our total time with patients has increased but in a different way,” the GPs said.
They added some GPs contracted coronavirus and put their lives in danger, and many more GPs contributed to the fight against the virus.
Compared to the rest of western countries, the GPs said in Cyprus they receive the lowest pay, and that part of their per capita income goes to paying secretarial costs, nurses, equipment and upkeep of offices.
On Sunday the general manager of the HIO, Andreas Papaconstantinou, told the Cyprus Mail there was no choice but to try and reduce costs because the revenues have decreased significantly, as a result of the lockdown.
“We are trying with small deviations to stay viable in these times,” he said. “We have already spoken to the general practitioners about a 10 per cent cut in their rates, which is not an unreasonable amount in these circumstances. It is in everyone’s interest for the health scheme to be viable.”
GPs are paid €100 per registered patient per year with a ceiling of 2,500 patients which translates into annual earnings of €250,000 for some.