A decision to reduce the frequency blood tests can be carried out on the national health scheme (Gesy) on Tuesday caused outrage among patients and confusion among GPs.

The health insurance organisation (HIO), which oversees Gesy), said it has told GPs a new policy will be in effect as of April.

Among other changes it means a routine full blood count (also known as complete blood count) will only be allowed once every five years for those aged 18 to 44, every two years for those in the 45 to 64 bracket and every year for those older than that.

The move has angered patients as many had been getting it once a year as a preventive measure, often advised by their GP under the principle that prevention is the best cure.

Explaining the decision, senior HIO officer Gnosia Achniotou told Omega TV that it concerns asymptomatic adults, who are not on medication and have not been diagnosed with any disease.

Despite this rule, it is understood that doctors can prescribe more frequent blood tests if they deem it necessary.

“If the doctor concludes there is a reason to carry out the test they will prescribe it,” Achniotou said.

She noted that this was decided after assessing the relevant bibliography and scientific studies while the organisation has also consulted doctors on this change.

“We discussed with the personal doctors… they even congratulated us for the work done,” Achniotou said.

But the chairman of the scientific society of family physicians Andreas Polynikis told the Cyprus Mail that this was not the case.

He said that doctors are still not aware precisely what blood tests the HIO will restrict, while they never recommended blood tests should be restricted based on age groups.

A meeting is expected on Thursday among the doctors in Gesy, where this issue will be discussed, he said, and they will later issue their position.

However, the doctor stressed that annual blood works are not required for the general public.

“I believe it’s not something that needs be done… I wouldn’t do it, nor would I advise my children to do it”.

He also implied that the move was taken for financial reasons, saying that no national health scheme is able to offer such frequent testing. He then urged those who wish to carry out those tests annually to do so privately.