State doctors were on Monday considering their response to an enhanced offer from the state health services designed to lure them into joining the national health scheme, ahead of a crucial meeting between the two sides scheduled for Tuesday.
Charalambos Charilaou, a spokesman for the state health services, said he hoped for a positive outcome that would bring about “labour calm”.
Over the weekend, the state health services (Okypy) had conveyed an upgraded financial incentives package to specialist doctors of the public sector.
The union of state doctors, Pasyki, will be delivering their response at a meeting with Okypy to take place at noon Tuesday.
The incentives – reportedly an extra €2,596 a month – are on top of doctors’ salaries.
The physicians have threatened to quit en masse unless the government bridges the pay gap between them and private-practice doctors contracted with the national health scheme, or Gesy.
The differences remain just as the second phase of Gesy – the offering of inpatient care – kicked in on Monday.
According to daily Politis, Okypy’s offer to state-sector specialists would work out to some €31,000 extra income per doctor per year.
The government initially set aside €17m for the incentives package, but with state doctors still holding out, President Nicos Anastasiades personally interceded to have the allocation increased to €20m – which corresponds to the extra €2,596 now being offered.
Citing sources, the paper said state doctors want another €3m to be added to the overall package if they are to come on board.
Cash aside, another bone of contention is the manner in which the incentives would be disbursed. Under Okypy’s latest proposal, 60 per cent of the incentives are to be made available directly to the state specialists, and the remaining 40 per cent to the clinics, who would then distribute that amount to doctors according to their productivity.
State doctors are wary of the proposal, because they say it doesn’t spell out who gets to define this productivity. Pasyki has also warned that the absence of objective criteria governing the divvying up of the 40 per cent, is liable to cause friction and jealousies among the doctors.
Although the three main state doctors unions are liaising, they will be deciding separately on whether to accept Okypy’s offer.
In addition to Pasyki, the two other unions in question are the doctors’ branch of Pasydy (the blanket civil servants trade union) and Pasesi, the union of temporary and contract doctors.
All three have intimated taking industrial action – including mass resignations from the state sector – unless their demands are satisfactorily met.
What they want is an ironclad guarantee from the government that it will deliver on remuneration regardless of Okypy’s cash flow situation.
Meantime the association of public-sector nurses are likewise waiting on Okypy to address their grievances. The nurses complain of severe understaffing, and are considering work-to-rule measures.