With state hospitals busy wrestling with the island’s coronavirus outbreak, the full rollout of the General Health System, initially planned for June, won’t be taking place until September.
Despite the setback, Deputy Head of the Health Insurance Organization (HIO) that runs Cyprus’ universal health system, locally known as Gesy, said that even in its first phase that was implemented in June last year, Gesy was crucial in the island’s effective handling of the pandemic.
“Imagine what would have happened if we still had the old system, when large numbers of patients would wait in line at state pharmacies to get their drugs,” Andreas Papakonstantinou said, adding that this not only makes things easier for the public but is also safer for public health.
The first phase of Gesy, saw the introduction of outpatient healthcare as well as all private and public pharmacies islandwide falling under the wing of the universal healthcare system.
Papakonstantinou added that Gesy GPs were also vital in decongesting the 1420 coronavirus hotline.
“We made use of our GPs and the public is now referred to them so they can conduct a proper evaluation of their patients’ health condition, and only if the GP deems the situation concerning does the patient then call 1420.”
Stepping up the role of GPs in the pandemic also meant that the public had a direct line of contact with doctors and specialists, who may also move to examine patients if they consider it necessary without involving hospitals already dealing with heavy loads.
Second phase of Gesy pushed back to September
The second and final phase of Gesy is expected to introduce all remaining healthcare services, such as inpatient healthcare, and broaden existing health services by including clinical dieticians, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, physiotherapists, and clinical psychologists, nurses and midwifes, accident and emergency departments, ambulance services, dentists, palliative healthcare services and medical rehabilitation services.
The HIO board will be making the three-month delay concrete in a meeting next Monday, when board members are also set to discuss readiness for the implementation of phase two and the Organization’s financial situation.