The Cabinet on Monday approved the hiring of 66 nurses for six months in public hospitals to reduce waiting times at first aid departments and waiting lists while increasing afternoon working hours.
The government estimates that the extra staff will allow an additional 2,500 surgical interventions and 5,000 outpatients examinations to be carried out in hospitals during the afternoons. Another 15,000 patients will also be referred to the private sector for examinations such as MRI scanning. The extra hires has a budget of €11.5 million.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said after the cabinet meeting that the first proposal concerns the recruitment of emergency staff to support the first aid department and the second is to increase productivity with overtime work.
“We hope with these measures, especially with buying services from the private sector and the overtime plan to substantially reduce the waiting lists that exist,” he said. “There will be referrals where there are currently waiting lists.”
Ioannou said the emergency nurses would be allocated to all districts and said in the meantime “we are proceeding with the reorganisation of primary health care.”
“This means that health centres will work in the afternoon,” he added. “Sixty-five per cent of incidents in the accident and emergency departments are not urgent and could be handled at health centres.”
He explained some hospitals already work in the afternoons and it is estimated that all will do so by the end of November so patients will be able to visit them instead of using the A&E departments.
Some will remain open until 8pm, he said.