Health Minister Popi Kanari on Wednesday attacked the finance ministry for insisting the ambulance service remain under the authority of the state health services organisation Okypy instead of her ministry.

In an interview with Politis, Kanari stressed her intention is to return the national ambulance service under the control of the health ministry, accusing the finance ministry of consistently resisting the idea by citing budget issues.

In no other country does the ambulance service fall under hospitals, she said, stressing that such services usually fall under the jurisdiction of the country’s health ministry or form a completely independent authority.

Since we want public hospitals to become autonomous, it means that they are already in a competitive environment with the private sector, she explained.

“So, when this ambulance service serves both public and private hospitals, it cannot be subject to Okypy, because that way private hospitals would be at a disadvantage.”

When asked about them, Kanari rubbished the finance ministry’s argument that this would create budget issues, saying that it’s not a matter of cost.

“Has a price ever been put on civil defence or the fire service?” she asked. “For such services, which are necessary for the state to offer and provide directly and safely for the public, there should be no issue of cost, which anyway is now paid by the health ministry.”

This service should have never been handed over to Okypy, she stressed, saying that she intends to put before the cabinet a proposal for it to be transferred under the control of her ministry.

Kanari said she plans on submitting her proposal at the first session after the summer break, on August 24, or in early September.

Regarding the remaining pending bills on palliative care and radiodiagnostic centres, Kanari noted that they will be tabled in December, at the earliest.

Specifically, for the bill on palliative care, she said that the goal is to submit it to parliament no later than February 2024.

“I think it can be submitted in December 2023 as well, in the hope that the legal service will not delay us”, while for the one on radiodiagnostic centres she said that “we have employed a legal consultant to prepare a draft of the bill”.

If all goes well, the bill will be put up for public consultation in September, she said, expressing the hope “that within October we will be able to send it for legal and technical control and if everything goes well, it will be submitted before the House in November or December”.