The new system for urgent care referrals under Gesy came into force on Thursday.

Under the new system, there are now two categories for referrals – “urgent” and “normal” – thus allowing for urgent cases to be processed and referred quicker.

Doctors have been informed that appointments for urgent referrals must be made within 10 days of the referral being issued.

Speaking to CyBC radio, Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) director Andreas Papakonstantinou said the decision as to whether a referral will be categorised as urgent or normal will be at the discretion of the patient’s general practitioner.

He added that there are a series of guidelines under which doctors will operate when categorising referrals.

Meanwhile, the HIO’s deputy general manager Athos Tsinondides told Phileleftheros that under the new system, the HIO “aims to serve patients who are facing urgent problems and facilitate our doctors, who will now know patients’ conditions in advance.”

As a result, he said, they will be able to “plan accordingly” and prioritise emergencies.

He added that prior to the new system’s introduction, “doctors were already, to a large extent, doing this, but now we are going one step further, and ensuring these things are documented.”

In later comments to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), he said the system is designed “to help specialist doctors prioritise the cases they have in front of them … so they can better prioritise their appointments and serve the public better.”

With this in mind, he said the HIO hopes the issue of waiting times for patients with urgent needs will be ameliorated under the new system.

He added that the HIO “is constantly working to deal with any problems which may arise and this is one of the measures which will help reduce waiting times.”

Speaking about the 10-day limit, he said “we must have the logic to understand that … our most popular doctors already have their appointments booked out for the next month, and maybe even longer.”

“For this reason, until the new system is in force and things are balanced out, we have to give them time,” he said.