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Refocus on NHS launch

A new discussion is expected to emerge in the health debate, following a month of setbacks and disagreements, with the government still hoping to roll out parts of an NHS in stages, until reform is concluded by 2020.

A senior administrator with the Health Ministry told a House committee yesterday that the government will be inviting all stakeholders for a new round of talks on February 28.

“The health minister is calling for a new house committee hearing in the coming weeks, where stakeholders can attend and share their views on contributions,” said First Health Officer Elisavet Constantinou.

This comes days after reports where it was not clear where exactly the health reform debate was going to land. Arguments against ongoing efforts had piled up and many left wondering if the NHS would take hold anytime soon.

It is also not clear what Health Minister George Pamboridis discussed yesterday with President Nicos Anastasiades and Finance Minister Harris Georgiades at the Presidential Palace.

The three men met to compare notes after MPs serving on the health committee said they saw disagreements between the two ministers as a sign that the government does not act in unison.

The committee was refusing to make a final decision on a study budget request by the finance minister until there was clarity and consensus between him and the health minister.

There were no statements after yesterday’s meeting, but Pamboridis downplayed media reports on Monday that suggested he had been at odds with Minister Harris Georgiades.

The finance minister is asking for €400,000 to carry out a new feasibility study on comprehensive health reform, since the latest actuarial study was based on figures from 2010 and 2011 and Georgiades wanted to get fresh data after the 2013 crisis.

The responsibility for updating figures in the NHS system would fall under the Health Insurance Organisation and it would be ongoing, based on current plans.

Autonomy in 2017

A new proposal by the health ministry, which would allocate €3 million in order to whittle down patient waiting lists in state hospitals, was well received by state doctors as money would go straight to doctors and nurses for overtime.

Constantinou said that turning centrally-run state hospitals into autonomous organisations is possible this year, and Pamboridis has been trying very hard to pass legislation to do just that.

But the House will have to hurry, as the bill needs to pass before Easter if 2017 will be the year of fixing state hospitals.

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