GHS in financial good health

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Cyprus’ landmark General Healthcare System will post a surplus of €80 mln in its first year of full operation, according to the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) which manages the scheme.

Athos Tsinontides HIO general manager while presenting the 2020 budget for the HIO, to the House Health Committee, said estimated expenses of the GHS are €969.6 mln and revenue €1.05 bln.

He noted as negotiations with private hospitals come to a conclusion, the HIO finds that “developments will not derail the financial framework set”.

The HIO said implementation of the system so far is satisfactory despite problems that may have arisen on the way. The GHS is to enter its second phase in June for hospital inpatient care.

Tsinontides told MPs, currently, there are 1320 registered specialists, 475 general practitioners for and 188 paediatricians enrolled with the GHS.

He reminded MPs that the GHS launched with 360 GPs and 98 paediatricians. Each doctor has an average 1,800 patients on their list, while paediatricians have an average of 1,650.

“Seven months later, the number of general practitioners rose to 475 and that of paediatricians to 188 with each general practitioner having an average of 1,370 on their list while paediatricians have an average of 875.”

The GHS was rolled out in June 2019 with just 420 specialist physicians, now more than 1,320 have enrolled covering all outpatient care specialities, said the HIO official.

He noted that since October, over 150,000 beneficiaries have changed their GP.

Also presenting the HIO’s budget was its chairman Thomas Antoniou who admitted the GHS faces staff and medicine shortages, which are being addressed.

Antoniou told MPs staff needs for state hospitals were estimated at 38 new posts for senior officials, health officials and health professionals, but they were not approved by the Ministry of Finance on the grounds that they were not submitted promptly.

He said the lack of cooperation of the medical community prior to the implementation of the GHS posed an “enormous obstacle which resulted in the software system being developed without their active involvement”.

Since then around 40 changes were made to the software causing teething problems.

Antoniou urged the Parliament to urgently push through the budget to avoid complications or further delays as the GHS approache4s its crucial second phase.

DISY MP Savvia Orphanidou said, “some doctors registered too many patients, resulting in long waiting lists and being unable to respond to patient calls”.

During Thursday’s meeting MPs discussed the possibility of lowering the maximum number of patients registered with a personal doctor from the current 2,500 to 1,500, said Orphanidou which is now possible as more doctors have joined the GHS.

EDEK leader Marinos Sizopoulos wondered why since the HIO budget would post an estimated €80 mln surplus, why did the government need to offer €70 mln in guarantees to the private hospitals for them to join the GHS.