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Physiotherapists go on four-hour work stoppage

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The association of physiotherapists went on a four-hour work stoppage on Thursday, from 9am until 1pm, over disputes with state health insurance organisation (HIO).

In its statement, the association said the decision came after a lack of HIO response to attempts to matters, as well as lack of intervention by the ministry of health.

If not addressed, the association warned, further action would be taken in the form of an all-day strike on Thursday, June 15.

“Our goal has never been simply to increase the budget for physiotherapy but to correctly calculate the necessary units required to cover the real needs of beneficiaries…which we are unable as an industry to control,” the association said.

Association spokesman Nikos Zentios, speaking on CyBC’s morning programme, said the matter was longstanding and the dispute hinges on the fact that physiotherapists are working far more appointments that they are being paid for, which is lowering the value rate of services they offer.

“The HIO budgeted for 100,000 monthly visits but we are seeing 150,000,” Zentios told CyBC, adding that since mid-summer of 2022 there has been a steadily increasing influx of patients.

The physiotherapists are demanding a higher budget allocation, claiming that if the HIO does not adjust for the rise in patient visits, the quality of patient care will suffer, and accused the insurer of not basing its fiscal estimates on real clinical needs.

HIO representative Monika Kyriakou, for her part, told CyBC that the problem stems from over-referral by orthopaedic and personal doctors and that the organisation had already increased the latest budget for physiotherapists by €4 million, bringing the total earmarked for this service to €26 million.

Kyriakou also said a record of chronic patients had been created in order to priotise services to that population.

“Certain criteria apply for referrals but they are being abused by doctors, demanding patients, and physiotherapists encouraging their patients to demand referrals,” the HIO spokeswoman claimed.

Currently, fifty per cent of referrals are made by personal doctors, Kyriakou said.

The HIO has called for a meeting with the orthopaedic services and welcomes input from the physiotherapists’ association but criteria must be put in place to ensure targeted provision, Kyriakou concluded.

The physiotherapists’ association for its part has requested the direct intervention of the minister of health in the matter.

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