Most state doctors in Cyprus are on a 24-hour strike from 7:30 am on Thursday in protest against the lack of professional insurance coverage.
Pasydy union members are not taking part in the strike so emergency and other special cases will be serviced.
At the same time, the island’s Health Services Organisation (Okypy) has described the strike – by Pasyki union members only – as unnecessary.
“We consider strike actions unnecessary and not in the best interest of patients,” said Okypy spokesperson Haralambos Harilaou.
He also said that an extension of insurance coverage for professional negligence liability has been secured for all Okypy personnel, including seconded, transferred, and contracted doctors until the end of the current year.
Furthermore, he added, there has been an extension of the handling process for cases concerning professional negligence by public servants seconded to Okypyi.
When asked about potential disruptions in public hospitals, Harilaou stated, “Only Pasyki is on strike; Pasydy is not participating. Therefore, a number of doctors will be available in departments and clinics where Pasyki doctors are present to meet the needs of urgent cases. No patient will be left without proper assistance.”
Regarding informing patients about appointment cancellations, he mentioned that it is the responsibility of each hospital to take all necessary measures in this regard.
In response to Okypy, Pasyki President Sotiris Koumas expressed his disappointment over the position of the authorities, who as he said are not moving to resolve the issues.
“We did not expect a different approach from Okypy. It is their standard response to disregard the daily realities faced by public hospitals,” he said.
“We have exhausted all options to resolve this through negotiations, and it is disheartening and surprising that we have not received any response or engagement from anyone to resolve the matter,” he added.
Koumas further explained the demands of health professionals, saying, “According to the law, every government employee, including government doctors and public physicians, is protected by the state as their employer, as stated in the Constitution and relevant legislation regarding negligence in the performance of their duties.”
“This system was in place before the establishment of Okypy. Two days before the launch of Gesy, as a response to our demands, we received a letter from the former Minister of Health, confirming that the state remains the employer for both permanent and fixed-term contract colleagues. Subsequently, a third category of doctors was created—those with contracts with Okypy. The Gesy law stipulates that each provider must submit an insurance document,” he explained.
However, for the past four years, Okypy has failed to fulfil this requirement, he said. “Permanent and fixed-term contract doctors are covered through a guarantee provided by the Ministry of Health, as they should. For about a year now, this issue has arisen. The Law Office of the Republic has issued a statement specifying that coverage will only be provided to permanent doctors for a limited period. This means that a right we brought with us upon our transfer to Okypy is being taken away,” he added.