The government of the Republic of Cyprus launched a new urgent care program over the weekend where citizens could visit a clinic for minor problems in an effort to unclog the emergency room.
Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said he was “happy and proud” on Saturday during a visit in Latchia, Nicosia district, where he went to inspect the launch of a weekend clinic at Latsia Health Centre.
"As I have said several times, we have to allow time for this endeavor to work and if there are any problems we shall deal with them,” Hadjipantela said.
Cyprus’ state healthcare has been lacking mechanisms to unclog crowded emergency rooms, as many citizens with non-emergencies have been accustomed over the years to seeking prompt treatment on the weekend.
GESY patients who cannot reach their personal doctor on a weekend or holiday will need to call the clinic, where trained staff can screen cases and refer them to an on-call doctor on the same day
Under the new system, citizens enrolled in the state’s healthcare program can go to their district’s designated clinic where an on-call physician other than their personal doctor can see them regarding a non-serious and non-emergency health issue.
“We want to give people the opportunity to be brought up to date with this practice and I am sure with the appropriate information it will be embraced by the public,” Hadjipantela said.
GESY patients seeking medical advice or care on a weekend or holiday but cannot reach their personal doctor will need to call the weekend clinic where trained staff can screen cases over the phone and refer them to an on-call doctor if necessary on the same day.
“I call on folks who have a need for it to come here and not go to the Emergency Room” the minister said.
Hadjipantela also clarified that patients should seek medical care at the weekend clinics only for urgent but not emergencies or serious issues, adding that the health centers were adequately equipped to provide urgent care.
But the health minister also suggested more support was needed in the pharmaceutical departments of the clinics. Officials said the first weekend was a good indication of what may be needed to improve service as more patients visit.
Health centers operate Saturdays from 9am through 5pm and Sundays or holidays from 3pm until 7pm, with both doctors for adults as well as pediatricians on duty.