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21 June, 2024
 
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Nurses' unions protest in Cyprus public hospitals

''I am ashamed'', Christodoulides says

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The health sector in Cyprus is facing renewed turmoil, with public hospital staffing and the absence of collective agreements at the centre of contention. This has prompted the fifth planned protest by the nurses' unions PASYNO and PASYDY.

President Nikos Christodoulides recently highlighted these issues during a visit to Troodos Hospital in Kyperounta, expressing his dismay by stating, "I am ashamed."

The nurses' unions have announced a protest for Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. Prodromos Argyridis, president of the PASYDY nursing branch, described this protest as a "first step" and warned of escalated measures if OKYPY, the state health services organization, does not respond.

OKYPY had agreed to hire 148 additional nurses following the COVID-19 pandemic, but only about 40 have been recruited so far. The current need is for more than 170 nurses, Argyridis told Sports FM. He stressed that understaffing is compromising patient care.

OKYPY disputes the nurses' figures, claiming they do not reflect the real needs of public hospitals. OKYPY spokesman Charalambos Charilaou told Sports FM that staffing is influenced by factors such as retirements, resignations, and clinic closures. He noted that 500 nurses have been hired over the past three years, including 40 in the last year. Charilaou emphasized that the additional 148 hires cited by nurses relate to clinics that are no longer operational or have reduced bed numbers.

Health Minister Michalis Damianos suggested that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. He acknowledged a general shortage of nursing staff and indicated that OKYPY would soon submit a proposal to address staffing issues. Damianos called for intensive consultations between both sides to resolve the matter swiftly and suggested that caregivers could be recruited to help meet staffing needs.

"The new turmoil in the health sector, marked by the one-hour protest by nurses, is cause for concern," said Efthimios Diplaros, chairman of the Health Committee of Parliament. He criticised OKYPY for not acknowledging the problems or taking responsibility, contributing to their escalation. Diplaros called for immediate dialogue between all parties to prevent further protests and find solutions for the benefit of patients.

President Christodoulides' visit to Troodos Hospital has sparked public outrage, highlighting deficiencies not representative of modern public hospitals. Simple issues such as changing a bed and repairing lavatories required presidential intervention, raising questions about how more significant problems, like an inactive CT scanner, will be resolved.

"I am ashamed that this intervention had to take place and that it needs to occur in many cases," Christodoulides remarked. An OKYPY spokesman declined to comment on the specific report but noted that damage repairs are routine for the organisation, which manages large spaces and numerous people. The spokesman emphasised that cooperation from hospital staff can resolve these issues.

A recent inter-ministerial meeting at the Presidential Palace focused on improving the infrastructure and staffing of Troodos Hospital. "Strong representations were made to OKYPY following the president's findings," said Interior Minister Konstantinos Ioannou. He noted that under the national health system (GESY), citizens can choose any hospital, unlike residents of Troodos communities, who are limited to Troodos Hospital.

[This article is a summary of Pavlos Neofytos' original story in Greek published in Kathimerini's Cyprus edition]

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Cyprus  |  health  |  protest

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