2015 in review A Godotlike wait for the NHS

first_imgBy Evie AndreouBeing a natural born optimist, I was looking forward to some progress towards the implementation of the National Health Scheme (NHS) this year.The NHS is a requirement of Cyprus’ bailout programme. Under the deal, Cyprus was supposed to offer a national healthcare scheme by 2015. Back in 2014, the then Health Minister Petros Petrides had announced that the NHS would indeed be introduced in 2015, but it would be implemented in stages and completed in 2016.Since then, dates have been constantly pushed back, with current Health Minister George Pamporides admitting in November that he could not give a timeframe. It could be in 2017, or 2018, or maybe later, he said.A major reason for the delay is that the autonomy of state hospitals, a pre-requisite of the NHS, is still pending.“Time is not the criterion,” the minister told reporters. “It is when and how soon we can streamline state hospitals through making them autonomous.”I beg to differ with the minister. Time is of great importance for all of us who want quality health care and the ‘privilege’ of access to general physicians preferably within a day or two after we request a doctor appointment.Criminally long patient lists are not uncommon, with people waiting to see specialists for over a year. And that’s just for an examination. Should they need surgery they have to sign up to yet another list, and wait for who knows how long? So, yes, time is of the essence.In June, during a health-related press conference, a journalist more experienced in NHS reporting than I expressed the conviction that it was unlikely we would ever see an NHS. “What a pessimist,” I said to myself. “Give it a chance.”At the time, we were waiting for the bill on state hospital autonomy to be tabled in parliament. The bill will open the way for the overhaul of the state hospitals aiming to make them viable and competitive. After the bill is actually passed as law, it would still take several months for autonomy to be fully implemented.Following exhausting, eventful discussions with health professionals, who threatened all sorts of industrial action unless their demands were granted, former Health Minister Philippos Patsalis had pushed for the bill to be tabled before the summer recess in July. I was certain the bill would make it. And then, oh the disappointment! The government issued an announcement on July 1 saying the cabinet was postponing its approval of the hospital autonomy bill until mid-September to give more time for discussions with the unions, “to avoid misunderstandings and negative reactions in the future”.“Let it be clear that no other extension will be given on behalf of the government, which in September will proceed with tabling the bill to the House,” the announcement said. Oh really? It was at that point that clouds started to appear in that sunny place where the bill was kept in my mind.Patsalis, who resigned soon after this let’s call it ‘unequivocal statement’ of the government, had warned that if the bill did not reach the House before the summer recess the momentum would be lost and we wouldn’t see an NHS “not even in 40 years’ time”. Unions that had threatened a 48-hour strike before the postponement announcement, celebrated the decision and said they had pressured the president into it, a claim the government denied.Needless to say, September came and went with no bill.Pamporides, who succeeded Patsalis, was in his first few months of service fervently expressing his determination to continue his predecessor’s work and press ahead with the NHS. In September he went as far as to say that if he did not see the implementation of the NHS as health minister, “it means that I will have failed in the duty I was assigned”.Of course we shouldn’t rush the government; after all, the initial talk of an NHS only began around five decades ago. These things take time. Consideration about the plan began in the 1960s. In 1972 we had a relevant study, then another one in 1977, six in total by 1988. Then in the 1990s we brought experts from abroad to help us, four more reports, and finally, in 2001 the law laying out the NHS was passed. In 2006 we commissioned a strategic plan, then a law amendment, but we were still taking our sweet time, just to make sure we got it right. Things were on the right track until our international lenders rushed us. But we still take our time. We need to please first all unions before we can actually proceed with the initial step, which is hospital autonomy, but hey, time is of no essence!Well, I have to congratulate the government and key healthcare stakeholders as they have dampened the optimist in me. I now feel it will be long, long time before we have a decent public health system, if ever.You May LikeDr. Marty ProPower Plus Supplement3 Dangerous Foods People Feed Their Dogs (Without Realizing It)Dr. Marty ProPower Plus SupplementUndoLuxury Crossover SUV I Search AdsThese SUVs Are The Cream Of The Crop. Search For 2019 Luxury Crossover SUV DealsLuxury Crossover SUV I Search AdsUndoPopularEverythingColorado Mom Adopted Two Children, Months Later She Learned Who They Really ArePopularEverythingUndo Concern over falling tourism numbersUndoTurkish Cypriot actions in Varosha ‘a clear violation’ of UN resolutions, Nicosia saysUndoPensioner dies after crash on Paphos-Polis roadUndoby Taboolaby Taboolalast_img

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