Director of Gesy operator HIO Andreas Papaconstantinou on Tuesday called on the deputy head of the Paphos general hospital’s cardiology clinic to resign after he criticised the general health scheme for not delivering what it had promised.
In an opinion article published this week, scientific director of the Paphos general hospital and deputy head of its cardiology clinic Dr Iosif Moutiris questioned one of Gesy’s ground rules, which is free access to doctors and services.
Citing the experience of three of his patients, Moutiris said the way the system operates now has led to the transfer of waiting lists from state to private hospitals.
Moutiris said one patient of the clinic he runs at the Paphos hospital asked to undergo heart surgery at a private hospital in Nicosia that is under Gesy but was told he had to wait two months despite urgently needing the operation.
Another patient also slated for surgery, he said, after realising he would have to wait for some time for surgery at a private hospital reluctantly opted to undergo surgery at the Nicosia general hospital instead.
But the worst case for Moutiris was that of a 72-year-old man who was recently diagnosed with a very serious heart problem and had to be operated on the soonest possible. Moutiris said after calls to one hospital in Limassol and three in Nicosia including the general hospital, they were unable to find a hospital under Gesy to carry out the operation. He said they were able to send the patient to a private hospital that is not under Gesy after securing approval from the health ministry.
“Why were the four Gesy hospitals that have a cardiac surgery clinic (among them Nicosia’s general hospital) not able to accept an emergency cardio-vascular surgery case, who, without surgery would have lost his life within a few hours?” Moutiris asked.
He added that the patient, who pays contributions to Gesy, was saved not because of Gesy but because of a hospital not contracted with the general health scheme and by the health ministry’s subsidy programme.
Moutiris called on the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) to find ways to overcome these problems that hinder Gesy’s operation and make free access to services impossible.
“If I were in his shoes I would hand in my resignation,” Papaconstantinou told Politis radio on Tuesday morning. The HIO official also said that if Moutiris does not resign, the issue ought to be looked into by the health minister or the board of the state health services’ organisation Okypy that runs public hospitals.
Papaconstantinou said Moutiris’ concern was that there are no competitors. “Isn’t this a scandal?” he asked.
He said Moutiris works in the public sector and receives handsome pay to promote the public sector to Gesy beneficiaries and that he ought to do just that.
“The imbalance in Gesy is Okypy’s failure to be an attractive choice to patients to ensure a balanced distribution of patients in both sectors,” Papaconstantinou said.
On the fact that the Nicosia general hospital was not able to serve the patient, Papaconstantinou said that perhaps it was a very special case which very few doctors could deal with. He said that is why the patient subsidy programme still runs so that such cases can be sent to the private sector if there is no possibility to be addressed under Gesy.
Papaconstantinou also refuted claims that waiting lists have now been transferred from the public to the private sector.
“It is completely different,” he said, adding that prior to the introduction of Gesy people in need of free healthcare were forced to wait for many months without any other option. Now, he said, they have a choice to wait for a couple months for services in private hospitals if they wish to, but they also have the choice to get the healthcare service they need from Okypy’s hospitals.