Doctors and other Gesy service providers are “on the end of verbal attacks” because patients are uninformed, House health committee chairman Efthimios Diplaros said on Thuesday.

Speaking at the committee meeting, he said verbal attacks are being launched by “patients who are not sufficiently informed about their rights and obligations.”

He added, “it has been established that in too many cases, Gesy service providers blame the health insurance organisation (HIO) or say Gesy will not let them fulfil a request made by a patient that they believe is unjustified.”

He also said both the friends of patients’ associations (Osak) and doctors have recorded cases of abuse against doctors, including verbal attacks and threats.

“Some people are forcing doctors to do the tests they want to do. This cannot be tolerated and cannot continue,” he said.

“Doctors are attacked by patients who do not know their rights and obligations,” he said, pointing out that the lack of information creates long waiting lists and cases in which patients wish to see two doctors within an hour of each other as “they feel they can demand more than they are entitled to.”

These incidents, he said, amount to “abuses and distortions which can and must be corrected now five years have passed since Gesy was implemented.”

Looking to how the matter can be corrected, he said the creation of a “patient advocate” would solve several problems. To this end, he said he has been informed by Health Minister Michael Damianos that the bill to create one is “at an advanced stage”.

In addition, he said there are already specialist groups examining patient complaints in contracted hospitals, and that state health services (Okypy) are about to launch “patient service offices” in all public hospitals.

However, he said, “we want Okypy to send us timetables for these to be implemented.”

He added that his committee has already freed up over €1 million for the HIO to carry out an information campaign regarding patients’ rights and said “patients urgently need to be informed and acquire the correct culture.”