Limassol General has been downgraded to a category 2 hospital, the health insurance organisation (HIO) announced on Friday, an issue which in previous days drew the ire of the state health services organisation (Okypy), which manage the hospitals.

Speaking to CyBC in the morning, head of HIO Andreas Papaconstantinou explained that the reasoning behind this downgrade was Limassol General’s failure to meet a number of quality standards, which hospitals are evaluated on before being categorised.

The issue with Limassol seems to have drawn intense criticism, as Okypy is set to lose around €15 million in funding from this downgrade.

Of the state hospitals, which are run by Okypy, only one hospital is now classed as category 1 – Nicosia General. The rest, Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos, and Famagusta are all classed as category 2.

Papaconstantinou said that four other private hospitals were also classed as category 1 by HIO.

As of last month, hospitals in Cyprus began being classed on quality standards, Papaconstantinou said, leading to the creation of three categories.

Commenting on the standards set for the evaluation of the hospitals, he said that Limassol General “marginally did not pass as category 1”.

The standards, he said, include numerical factors that have nothing to do with human reporting, i.e. HIO takes into account if the hospital has an MRI machine or how many serious and time consuming surgeries were conducted, or the CMI (Case Mix Index).

“We won’t change criteria to beautify a situation. We will change criteria, only when we believe there is a blatant injustice,” he said.

He added that Limassol General will be allowed to be revaluated, in the future, and could be bumped up.

Meanwhile, the issue of the downgrade was discussed at the House health committee on Thursday, where Okypy reps criticised the decision.

Speaking at the meeting, Okypy’s rep for Paphos and Limassol Christos Nicolaou said: “With the new data of HIO, both the Limassol hospital and the Paphos hospital are at category 2. The reason we were put in category 2 is firstly the complexity of the incidents that we will be able to manage in case of an emergency, since we do not we have all four medical specialties defined by HIO and we only have the two. We have been calling for three years to be given three specific specialties by Okypy.”

Speaking at the same session, Okypy spokesman Pambos Charilaou said that with this decision, HIO has downgraded a hospital that has an ICU, an MRI, five operating theatres, and more than 200 beds.

HIO later on Thursday said that the reasoning for this situation may have been due to the failure of Okypy to provide them with the correct information about Limassol General.

On Friday, both HIO and Okypy were due to hold meetings with President Nikos Christodoulides separately to discuss the tension in the relationship between the two organisations. The meetings were to be attended by the health minister and finance minister.

However, while the first meeting, with Okypy, went ahead, the one with the HIO was put off.