COVID19: Cyprus gets tough on renegade doctors

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Authorities will be looking to plug holes in legislation preventing the Cyprus Medical Association (CMA) from handing out stricter disciplinary measures to members who face criminal charges.

Prompted by revelations that doctors have issued fake COVID-19 vaccination cards, Attorney general George Savvides presided over a meeting with CMA, the police, and Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas on Monday.

All sides agreed the association should be given the power to suspend a doctor’s license when accused of serious criminal offences.

“What we discussed in-depth, and where a weakness was identified, was in the CMA’s ability to impose disciplinary measures on doctors before conviction, concerning potentially unethical behaviour,” said Savvides

Currently, the CMA has no right to suspend a doctor’s license until they have been convicted.

Savvides said the CMA would make recommendations, which will be conveyed to the Health Ministry before they are enacted into law.

The meeting came after a public outcry at a Larnaca-based 53-year-old GP accused of handing out a fake vaccination card to a patient who is now intubated at Nicosia General’s ICU.

The 53-year-old doctor, who denies the charges, has been remanded in custody for eight days, while the patient involved has admitted to not getting the jab.

Police are going through a list of 102 people who may have fake jab cards.

GPs were deployed to assist the island’s vaccination rollout by administering the AstraZeneca jab.

From recent events, it became apparent that the CMA had a problem with suspending a doctor’s licence before a court conviction, an issue in many professional associations.

Meanwhile, police are looking into another five cases of doctors who have allegedly issued fake vaccination cards, said Health Minister Hadjipantelas.

Police are investigating two Paphos-based doctors and one Limassol physician who have reportedly handed out fake cards.

The Paphos case involves a paediatrician who allegedly issued a fake vaccination card for her son, who is now being treated at a COVID-19 ward at Limassol General.

A vaccination card is one requirement for Cypriots to secure a Safe Pass, granting them entry to crowded indoor and outdoor facilities such as restaurants, bars, supermarkets, and bakeries.