IN LIMASSOL, specialist doctors that had joined Gesy while the clinics in which they worked had not, are unable to practise. There had been a suggestion that they use public hospitals when they need to perform an operation or to put patients through tests that cannot be carried out at a doctor’s surgery.
Public hospital doctors have immediately vetoed the idea, saying any doctors that want to use hospital facilities for their patients should apply for a job there. The main reason for their opposition was that these facilities could not cope with the volume of work that hospital clinics and departments already had. The facilities were not adequate for the government doctors, said a union boss.
The state health services Okypy, which runs the hospitals, has avoided expressing an opinion for fear of antagonising the unions that act like the owners of public hospitals. The suggestion, although Okypy, would not dare admit it, is sensible and practical as it would allow better use of hospital resources which, contrary to what unions are saying, are under-utilised because of public employee working hours.
Many hospital facilities, including operating theatres, are not used after 3pm, except in case of emergencies, because government doctors and nurses work civil service hours. The same is true of other hospital facilities. It would make perfect sense to allow Gesy specialists to use these facilities for their patients after the government doctors go home, and charge them. They would also pay for nurses that stayed to help them.
It is a win-win situation as the specialists would have access to hospital facilities, for which they would pay, thus providing Okypy with some revenue. In addition, hospital operating theatres and other facilities would be used in the afternoons and nights rather than remain unutilized for half the day. Doctors’ unions should not even have been consulted about this arrangement, because, first, they are not the owners of the public hospitals and second it would not affect their pay and work conditions.
There is a wider problem here. Public sector unions act as if the workers are the owners of public organisations treating these as workers’ cooperatives, which must be run by their workers for the exclusive benefit of their workers. Cyta’s unions blocked privatisation without any legal right to do so and EAC unions have maintained the Authority’s monopoly preventing repeated government attempts to open the market for the benefit of consumers; teaching unions treat public schools in the same way. Public hospital doctors are now claiming ownership of the hospitals without having any legal right to do so. It is like we are living in a socialist state.
This scandalous state of affairs must stop, but nobody is prepared to take a stand. Not even when doing so at public hospitals would reduce patient waiting lists and ensure better utilisation of resources.