THE ‘HISTORIC DAY’ on which Gesy entered its second phase turned into an orgy of self-congratulation for meeting the June 1 deadline while the health minister started a tour of the private hospitals that had joined, presumably to congratulate them and thank them for bailing out the public hospitals, which are in a state of disarray.
An estimated eight to 10 thousand people are currently waiting for operations, many of which were put off because of the coronavirus and the closure of hospitals. Others were waiting for the second phase to arrive so they could have their operations in private hospitals, which means there will be long waiting lists but no complaints.
What is astonishing is that the private hospitals agreed to join despite being forced to accept a 6% cut in the rates they had agreed with Health Insurance Organisation (ΗΙΟ) before the pandemic. They have received guarantees from the government that the cuts would last only until the end of the year.
There is a sense of irony that the profit-making private hospitals and greedy private doctors that work in them agreed to this as they have become the only ones that will not have tried to milk dry the Gesy cash cow. Everyone else that has joined Gesy will emerge much richer, even though nobody labelled them greedy and selfish.
ALTHOUGH they agreed to take less money, at least one private hospital secured a concession from the HIO, which is a violation of the GESY law – the Aretaieon Hospital has been given permission to operate a private wing of 15 beds.
During the negotiations, some private hospitals had demanded this concession in order to join but the HIO refused to give in because this was against the Gesy law, which stipulates that any Gesy doctor who engages in private practice in parallel is committing a criminal offence.
So, when the doctors of the Aretaieon are treating patients in the private wing, for which they would be paid privately, would they face criminal charges? It has been said the private patients would be treated by doctors that were not in Gesy but when they are in the hospital’s operating theatre, which in theory should be used only for Gesy patients, would the nurses, surgeon, anaesthetist all be non-Gesy?
It was not the only concession the HIO generously made to Aretaieon. It also lifted the cap on guaranteed revenue, based on 2018 numbers, so the hospital is now in the process of buying a private Nicosia clinic to further increase its earnings to add to those of its private wing.
MEANWHILE all last week the state medical services Okypy was haggling with the public hospital union doctors over how much their monthly salary would be increased. The final offer was €1,850 extra, but the unions were still playing hard ball, claiming they had to consider it and consult their members. Productivity incentives could increase this to €2,600 per month for the non-lazy.
They grudgingly agreed and on the bright side, it was less than the 100% increase they had originally demanded. The amount will be paid across the board regardless of performance or productivity because the unions did not want their lazy, unproductive members to be discriminated against. Penalising laziness and poor performance is something unions never agree to.
The main justification for the increased pay was to ‘cut the gap’ in income with specialists working with Gesy as independents and stop the departure of specialists from public hospitals. But outside specialists earn more because they work 12 to 14 hour days, whereas government doctors finish work at 3pm, get paid holidays, get paid even if they go sick for three months and receive a retirement bonus and big fat pension, which will be even fatter thanks to the whopping pay rise they have been given.
THE NURSING unions are threatening strikes at public hospitals, not for more money but because they want Okypy to hire more of them – some 350 was the number they were talking about. It boggles the mind when you think there are currently three times more nurses per bed in public hospitals than private hospitals.
Even allowing for nurses that work at medical centres, it would still be at least twice as many per bed than in private hospitals. On Saturday Health Minister Ioannou spoke about the €140m deficit Okypy would have and wondered whether this will be reduced through extortionate pay rises and hiring more staff.
You do not have to be an expert on hospital management to know that the alleged nursing shortage could be resolved by changing the absurd civil service working hours at public hospitals and not having all staff working until 3pm and having minimum number of staff working afternoons and evenings and being paid overtime rates. Operating theatres in public hospitals are left unutilised in the afternoons despite the long waiting lists.
I suspect if Ioannou randomly picked a couple of people having a frapuccino in Starbucks they would do a better job at running public hospitals than the Okypy lot, whom it would be flattering to describe as hopeless.
WITH sights set on the next elections, Dr Eleni’s Solidarnosc movement issued a statement reminding us of the proposal their great leader had made during a national council meeting two months ago. She had proposed the granting of an allowance for unhygienic and dangerous work to medical, nursing and technical staff at the public hospitals!
It was not one of her smartest proposals, considering 90% of medical, nursing and technical staff were on holiday during the coronavirus, because the hospitals had closed down and the only dangerous and unhygienic work they were doing was watching too much television.
The Solidarnosc announcement also revealed that Prez Nik had agreed to Dr Eleni’s proposal but two months later nothing had been done. He deserves an allowance for taking Dr Eleni for a ride.
HATS OFF to the business-hating parties of the Left, Akel and Edek, both of which posed as businesses in order to be eligible for state assistance. Alithia reported how the two parties applied for the emergency help being offered by the state to stricken businesses to secure the payment of their employees’ wages.
Businesses eligible were those that closed down or saw a 25% decrease in their revenue compared to the corresponding month in the previous year. Both parties had already received their respective state subsidy (€1.6m for Akel and €490,000 for Edek) but could not resist the opportunity to steal a bit more of the taxpayer’s money. The big question is, who at the labour ministry approved the payments, considering neither the socialists nor the commies could claim loss of revenue or having to close down.
Diko, which did not apply for the scheme, used the pandemic to impose significant cuts on staff wages, even though it could not claim its revenue fell. An official from Disy, which did not cut wages or apply to the scheme, told Alithia, “Did we suffer any losses or do we sell sandwiches and our revenue fell?”
AFTER a brief cooling off period, during which Benjamin Netanyahu was trying to form a government, our love affair with Israel has been re-kindled and Prez Nik, accompanied by a posse of ministers, will be visiting later this month to renew our vows.
According to government spokesman KK, the visit will “further upgrade our already excellent relations with the friendly neighbouring country.” KK said “the excellent relations with Israel are well-known at all levels without exception,” and just when you thought he had run out of superlatives, he said: “We want to confirm our excellent relations and our cooperation with a neighbouring country, which it is known offers support on issues that concern the Cyprus Republic.”
Will Prez Nik bring up the issue of the some 100 ventilators that Israel was supposed to send us during the pandemic but did not arrive during his visit or will that undermine the excellent relations?
AS REPORTED last week, the Cyprob is gradually resurfacing and nobody has done more to help than our very own Tass news agency. On Tuesday it reported another small triumph for Kyproulla at the UN under the headline “Unanimous election of Volkan Bozkir to the position of president of the 75th session of the General Assembly of the UN averted.”
Greece, Cyprus and Armenia “broke the silent procedure that would have resulted in the election of Bozkir” who, if you have not guessed, is Turkish by insisting on a vote. This was colossally pointless considering there is no other candidate and his election is more than a certainty. Tass reported the “the move has a symbolic character, simply to avert the unanimous election of Bozkir.” I would not be surprised if our foreign minister who specialises in symbolic diplomacy, was behind this.
THIS WAS a report in the English service of Tass, which requires no comment: “The illegal puppet regime in Cyprus’ Turkish occupied areas raises obstacles handling the issue of the re-opening of the crossing points as a political one, as part of the process during which Turkish Cypriot will choose their leader, Government Spokesman Kyriacos Koushos has told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), noting relevant statements made by the so-called prime minister of the puppet regime Ersin Tatar and the so-called foreign minister Kudret Ozersay.”