Cyprus Editorial: Equality in care and treatment

18 May, 2017 | Posted By: Financial Mirror

Amid accusations that it is blocking progress in getting the long-overdue national health scheme (GESY) up and running, by seeking delays to clarify certain vague issues, the Cyprus employers’ federation OEV has finally decided to stand its ground and insist that all outstanding issues be resolved prior to passing the framework bill through parliament.

What has been suggested is to introduce a transitionary period whereby the real cost be properly calculated, a critical issue that affects all future planning for companies of all sizes, especially the larger employers such as banks, shipping companies and semi-government utilities (Cyta, EAC, etc.)
What is at stake here is jeopardising the future viability of the GESY simply because political parties have promised private sector and civil service trade unions that the bill would be approved prior to the summer recess. However, financial impact studies have not yet been concluded, to determine how this would affect payrolls and payouts in the future, with Cyprus remaining at the lower end of productivity and competitiveness in the European Union.
Furthermore, in an effort to speed up matters, the full autonomy of state hospitals has not yet been committed by stakeholders (doctors, nurses and staff), with the risk that this autonomy might never come, despite agreeing to overhauling the health sector. In addition, private sector hospitals and workers are still unsure what fee basis will be used for their services and how this will pan out.
It’s bad enough that the GESY has taken 20-25 years to being conceived, rushing with last-minute patch-up jobs could prove fatal, as a result of which patients will lose their benefits or access to affordable treatment and care, while the only beneficiaries will be state doctors and nurses who have moaned and whined for the past few years, pushing the deadlines as close to the 2018 presidential elections as possible.
The ideal solution would be for everyone to have access to state (and eventually autonomous) hospitals, according to the OEV suggestion, while those who could afford to can invest in private insurance and buy premium services, either from doctors operating within state hospitals in private practice (and charge for it) or in private hospitals, where the added value will undoubtedly be far superior.
What also needs to be determined is how to merge (or invoice) the private medical funds of large-scale employee groups when using state hospital services, or whether they would opt to remain with private sector hospitals, something state doctors and nurses do not want as their jobs will be at stake. This is probably why unions do not want the autonomy of state hospitals to go ahead, so that they will have a fallback when numbers start to dwindle and they seek more funds from the government (paid by taxpayers).
It’s a shame that this self-interest has trumped the rights of ordinary patients to equality in care and treatment.