One of the greatest achievements that can be credited to the ten-year rule of Anastasiades was clearly the introduction of the General Health System. The President of the Republic himself and his first two ministers, Giorgos Pamboridis and Konstantinos Ioannou, showed determination so that one of the biggest reforms in Cypriot history would come out of the drawers and be implemented. And some of the stages of the implementation of the NHS took place, in fact, in the midst of a global pandemic, which repeatedly tested its endurance.
This major health crisis highlighted how necessary the NHS and universal access to public health is and, by extension, the need to protect it as much as possible. Along the way, however, and with the assumption of the Health portfolio by Michalis Hatzipandelas, this determination seemed to wear off. Commitments remained commitments, promises were kept in words, problems did not find solutions or were dealt with superficially to gain some time and the dedication to the development of public health seemed to hit the brakes abruptly. Michalis Hatzipantela completes his term with open fronts, dissatisfied and protesting and unable to achieve the balances that seemed to be possible under much more difficult conditions. And he leaves a difficult legacy to his successor.
The complexity of public health management and the multiple issues that constantly arise and must be dealt with immediately make the Ministry's seat hot, as its head must have the ability to identify golden sections for the problems that mainly concern patients.
Possibly, the problem that has the greatest impact on patients is the situation in the Accident and Emergency Departments of public hospitals, with the main problem being long waiting times for examination and the reduced number of available beds, which however are issues that they arise in chains, due to the most serious problems facing our hospitals, such as the lack of staff.
It may be that, even a few days before the Presidential Election, the nurses' and doctors' unions sounded the alarm bells once again, urging the immediate recruitment of staff due to the resulting shortages, but their concerns fell on deaf ears. Although in the past period, the Organization of State Health Services convened a broad meeting with the trade unions, in order to determine the needs in each hospital, nevertheless, no official action has been announced by the authorities to find a solution for the understaffing.
And it's not just the understaffing, it's also the fact that Mr. Hadjipantela made promises to solve the problems of TAEP, with the inclusion of the Departments of private hospitals that are contracted to the NHS. An arrangement that the next Minister of Health will find in front of him, since despite the efforts of the Health Insurance Organization to initially proceed with an agreement with a private hospital in Nicosia, it is still delayed.
Even the creation of the institution of on-call clinics, which was expected to breathe life into the TAEPs, does not seem to have contributed, as it has not been consolidated among the citizens. As well as the announcement for the operation of the TAEP for children, which, although it was expected to open its doors before the change of time, just recently in the context of the Government's pre-election activity, it was announced that it has been operating on a pilot basis since Monday with only three permanent pediatricians .
Another serious issue affecting patients, which the new Government will face, is the inclusion of new innovative drugs in the list of drugs of the General Health System. It is possible that Mr. Hatzipantela announced the immediate inclusion of approximately 130 innovative medicines in the System, however the OAU believes that this was necessary and needs time to be done, although it is making continuous efforts. It is now understood that the introduction of innovative drugs is also something that the new health minister will find on his way.
Another issue that will be loaded into the already heavy portfolio of the Ministry of Health by the next Government is the contracts of the NHS hospitals and the new way of their compensations, with the date of completion of the consultations going from postponement to postponement, since the original scenario was  ;OAU and hospitals to reach an agreement on January 1st. Nevertheless, with a positive atmosphere, the two sides are in constant consultation and have given time until the beginning of March.
Also, the much-discussed bill of the Patient Advocate, which went through a thousand waves until the completion of the legislative framework that would satisfy both patients and the Ministry of Health, is also transferred to the next Government for approval. What is expected is for the Patient Advocate to be taken to the Cabinet of the new Government for approval and then to follow the road to the House of Representatives.
The outstanding issues that Mr. Hadjipantela leaves behind are many. and are expected to transfer problems to the next minister, and to maintain concern among those involved in the sector, but especially among those who have the first say: The patients.
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