By Peter Stevenson
NICOSIA General Hospital chief Petros Matsas on Monday appointed a ‘bed manager’ after a chaotic weekend saw all wards full to the hilt and new patients having to wait hours before getting a bed.
The situation had not greatly improved by Monday with all 475 hospital beds occupied.
Daily Phileleftheros reported that patients visiting the emergency department had to wait from between two and 24 hours for a bed.
The overcrowding was “a problem that occurs from time to time and is due to the increased intake, and some weaknesses in the system”, Matsas said.
An increase in respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis at this time of year always puts extra pressure on health services, he said.
On top of this, both the CT and MRI scanners were not working, which meant some patients could not be cleared for release.
“We could not perform any confirmation examinations which would have allowed some patients to leave,” he said.
Yet another pressure on space is the increased number of specialised operations taking place at the hospital that until recently would have been carried out abroad.
“We bring in more cases, operations take place and we put more pressure on the hospital,” he said.
Matsas said that the bed situation would gradually improve.
“A bed manager has been appointed, who along with my cooperation will take charge of that part of the management and admittedly we are the only EU country – apart from Greece – that does not have a bed management system in the EU and we are trying to arrange one ourselves,” he said.
Despite the high demand, Matas said an extra ward containing an extra 20 beds had remained closed.
“It is used for emergencies, in cases of a major catastrophe, and is also used occasionally by doctors of the Royal College of Surgeons as an examination centre,” he said.
Asked why the wing had not been opened to help ease the current problems, Matsas said that extra beds did not mean there was extra staff to man the wing. Current personnel would not be able to handle the extra beds, he said.
The wing had been previously used to film a TV series, but the chief denied claims that it had been used this year for that purpose.
Health Minister Petros Petrides pledged on Monday that he would look at restructuring the patient admission system for surgeries and other operations at Cyprus’ hospitals.
Petrides was in Larnaca yesterday to oversee construction work for the extension of Larnaca GeneralHospital.
“There was a delay in admitting around 25 patients who required medical care and that was eventually arranged. There is a certain insufficiency in our services. The admission system for surgeries and other operations is not the correct one,” he said.
“We will have to review the system and I have ordered the head of the medical services and permanent secretary to meet so that it can be restructured,” he said.