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Several doctors swindled Gesy, report uncovers

feature theo auditor general odysseas michaelides
Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides

The auditor-general has once again uncovered doctors charging the state exorbitant rates amid dubious practices – with one charging Gesy €226,000 within just five months.

“What was he doing, working 48 hours a day?” Zacharias Koulias, head of the house watchdog committee, queried on Thursday.

The Health Insurance Organisation (HIO), operator of the national healthcare system Gesy, is once again in the firing line over accusations that it is not doing enough to keep greedy doctors in check.

The watchdog committee was reviewing the auditor-general’s report into the defence ministry, which uncovered the seemingly bizarre incidents of brazen doctors charging the taxpayer eye watering amounts.

“The doctor charging €226,000 in five months was one of the first cases which assisted the service in realising the wholly inadequate checks on part of the HIO.

“One of the doctors was an ophthalmologist and we found that he was putting entries into the system every six minutes. It was blatantly problematic and should have sounded the alarm at the HIO,” auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides said.

He further claimed that an investigating officer was appointed by the defence ministry who then reviewed the incident but decided against disciplinary measures.

Michaelides added that the file was sent over to the legal services but the attorney-general found no evidence of criminal offences.

The auditor-general also stated that he had requested the tax office to investigate whether doctors charging such amounts had declared their income. One doctor has been referred for criminal prosecution while two others have been requested to undergo tax enforcement.

Michaelides explained that the review found a number of medical specialists were military doctors and registered with Gesy but were also practicing privately. He added that these doctors had not followed the necessary licensing procedures after the relevant bills passed through parliament in 2020.

On behalf of the defence ministry, Nikos Mataiou acknowledged that the incidents referred to by Michaelides occurred during the transition period.

“Our position is that wherever there is any violation whatsoever then justice must take its course,” he said.

The defence ministry official reiterated that the case has been reviewed by the attorney general who deemed no criminal offences occurred.

Elsewhere, Stavros Michail, president of the HIO, said the organisation is not an employer – adding that there is no legislation requiring the HIO to check whether a doctor is working elsewhere, too.

He added that the HIO cooperates with the tax services so they can cross check the amount charged by doctors and the subsequent amount they declare.

In a separate case, last February, Michaelides found that 11 Gesy doctors each earned over €500,000 in 2020 – with one topping the charts at a whopping €870,742.

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