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Edek and former health minister in war of words over Gesy

Former Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis

The Edek party has released information that it says raises serious questions about former health minister Giorgos Pamboridis, particularly how his personal financial interests influence his opinions on the national healthcare system or Gesy.

The reveals tie in to an ongoing public row between Pamboridis – who as health minister devised most of the architecture of Gesy- and Edek over the functioning of the national healthcare system.

Edek leader Marinos Sizopoulos has been arguing for tweaks to the system – for instance that private practitioners not registered with Gesy should be able to write prescriptions that can be filled on it.

A dermatologist by profession, Sizopoulos himself has a private practice – although he has formally cut ties with it since being appointed leader of Edek.

His proposal has incurred the wrath of several pundits, including Pamboridis, who say they will not stand for any change to the ‘philosophy’ of Gesy.

This led to a back-and-forth on social media, with each side casting aspersions on the other.

Edek said Pamboridis had a vested interest, and insinuated he had links to a private diagnostic centre. The ex-minister denied it, calling Sizopoulos “a liar” and daring him to name the centre.

Coming back, Edek released information linking Pamboridis to the Babymed diagnostic centre. It said moreover that Pamboridis’ law firm drafted that company’s articles of association.

In a statement on Tuesday, Edek quoted directly from Babymed’s articles of association, according to which the company’s core activities concern the purchase, sale, leasing and operation of hospitals and diagnostic centres, and the “provision of relevant services.”

Edek presented its discovery as the smoking gun that explains why Pamboridis set up the national healthcare system as a single-insurer system, as well as why he is averse to any improvements to its financial workings.

The party said that as health minister drafting the bill governing the operation of Gesy, Pamboridis had inserted a clause stipulating that during the first five years of Gesy (June 2019 to June 2024) the state would cover all deficits incurred by public hospitals.

After June 2024 public hospitals should attain complete financial autonomy, and any subsequent cash injections from the government would be deemed state aid – prohibited under EU rules.

Edek said this arrangement suffered from a major flaw – namely that public hospitals would inevitably run up deficits during the first five years, at the end of which they’d run out of funds. This in turn meant the hospitals would be up for grabs.

What Pamboridis ought to have done instead, Edek argued, is introduce mechanisms ensuring public hospitals could stand on their own feet before the rollout of Gesy – not after.

And once the bankrupted public hospitals became fair game, said Edek, they could be picked up by private interests for pennies on the dollar – by companies such as Babymed for instance.

Essentially the party alleges that, as health minister Pamboridis set up the national healthcare system to fail at some point in the future – and that he could profit from that.

Twisting the knife, Edek also dredged up the case of David Nicholson, formerly chief executive of the NHS in England.

In 2018 Nicholson was appointed chairman of the newly-established state health services organisation – the entity overseeing the implementation of Gesy here. He was later sacked following accusations of a potential conflict of interest which he had failed to declare when applying for the job in Cyprus.

Pamboridis has gone on record saying it was he who had approached Nicholson for the job.

Piggybacking on this comment, Edek insinuated that due to their ties Nicholson and Pamboridis may have masterminded the eventual demise of the national healthcare system in Cyprus.

Hitting back on Twitter, Pamboridis brushed the allegations aside as conspiracy theory.

“You’re probably going to have to try harder if you want to sling mud at me. Come up with something more imaginative,” he posted, evidently alluding to Edek.

“In the meantime I will wait for you to file a formal complaint or else apologise.”

 

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