Hospital doctors to hold three-hour work stoppage

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Doctors at state hospitals will hold a three-hour stoppage on Thursday in protest over the working hours at on-duty GHS clinics, set to operate this weekend.

Hospital outpatient clinics are to operate longer hours during the week (3 pm to 7 pm) at outpatient clinics, and on weekends, as announced by the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO).

According to HIO plans on-duty clinics will work eight hours on Saturdays and four on Sundays and national holidays.

However, the state doctors’ union PASYKI and public sector union PASYDY, representing other health workers backed the decision to stage a three-hour strike action from 9 am to 12 pm on Thursday.

The Cyprus Medical Association said the letter informing doctors about the opening of the new on-duty clinics took them by surprise, arguing that the decision “was taken unilaterally and with complete lack of respect for the reasonable concerns made by healthcare staff.”

The CMA has argued that clinics cannot be stationed at state hospitals.

Unions PASYKI and PASYDY, have also claimed the current situation does not justify the extra effort that will have to be borne by health workers.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, they argued that the HIO informed parties concerned over their decision without consulting with them first.

They said allowing private doctors to operate in public hospitals would be the first step towards privatisation.

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, HIO director Andreas Papaconstantinou said people have long been waiting for on-duty clinics to operate during weekends.

“Our plans do not change. On-duty clinics will start operating, if not this weekend, then the next one,” said Papaconstantinou.

HIO foresees that two on-duty clinics for adults and one for children will each operate in the Nicosia and Limassol, while one clinic for adults and one for children will be set up in the other districts.

The facilities will be staffed by state and private GPs and paediatricians enlisted with the General Healthcare System, including nurses and secretarial staff.

The HIO has informed doctors that they will be paid €60 per hour while on-duty, whereas nurses, will get €30 hourly.