Health practitioners aged over 75 will be removed from the national health scheme (Gesy), the national health insurance organisation (HIO) said.

The decision was taken at the last meeting of the HIO board and according to it, all professionals will leave the scheme when they reach the age of 75.

The age limit does not only apply to doctors in Gesy, about whom in several cases in the past there have been reports in relation to their age, but to all health professionals who are registered in the system and provide services, either under personal contract – as individuals – or as employees of companies.

These measures will affect GPs, specialists, nurses, midwives, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, clinical dieticians, podiatrists, and speech pathologists, among others.

The decision will be implemented through legislation that is set to be passed by parliament.

It will also include a transitional provision for existing health professionals aged 70 and over who will be given the opportunity to participate in the scheme for a further five years.

This provision means that a doctor who is currently 72 will be allowed to remain part of Gesy until 77.

According to official HIO data, at the moment, doctors over 75 years of age make up 4 per cent of GPs and 2 per cent of specialist doctors.

In total, there are around 70 doctors over 75 years of age in Gesy. For GPs the number is around 30, while the number of specialist doctors over 75 is around 40.

“This decision was taken by the board of directors of the agency with the sole concern of protecting patients and further shielding public health,” the director general of the HIO Andreas Papaconstantinou said.

“Based on the implementation of the agency’s strategic plan, which was very recently presented by our president, the HIO places particular emphasis on upgrading the quality of services provided and this is a measure in this direction.”

He added that “this measure will also aim to create more favourable conditions for young doctors and other health professionals to join the system, since, with the retirement of doctors over 75 years old, more opportunities will be created for young people.”

“This will also have a positive impact, at least to some extent, on financial management,” he said.

As to why the age limit was set at 75, he said the specific age was considered a reasonable limit since it potentially gives another 10 years of good service to the health professional from the standard retirement year of 65.