DESPITE the cabinet’s decision earlier in the week for the referral of all patients waiting for surgery at state hospitals to the private sector, breast cancer surgeries are not included, the head of the Cyprus patients and friends association Marios Kouloumas said on Thursday.
Since the indefinite strike of nurses union PASYNO began on March 15, all scheduled surgeries at state hospitals have been cancelled with the exception of urgent cases.
Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC, Kouloumas said that breast cancer surgeries, which require specialist doctors, cannot be carried out in private hospitals, and because they are not deemed as urgent cases, they have been cancelled.
At the moment, only patients injured in serious accidents and brain hemorrhages are deemed as urgent cases.
“We need to review what an urgent case is, to include breast cancer surgeries, because they are urgent,” Kouloumas said.
The group also worries that the prolonged strike makes patients more vulnerable as it hinders their access to health care and puts their safety at risk.
“Doctors themselves said they could not guarantee the safety patients and that there is bigger possibility of medical error. If doctors themselves make such statements, then yes we do worry,” Kouloumas said.
State doctors union PASYKI had warned since the strike began that it would burden doctors with more responsibilities.
“Our greatest concern is the patients’ safety and their access to health services,” Kouloumas said.
Since the strike began, to-date 320 patients have been referred to the private sector, the health ministry said in an announcement. The number includes urgent cases, and patients on waiting lists for surgeries in state hospitals which have been cancelled due to the strike.
As regards the strike, Undersecretary to the President Constantinos Petrides, said that the government was willing to engage in a dialogue with PASYNO union within the framework of hospital autonomy, but will not be blackmailed into only discussing issues concerning the salaries “of some categories of civil servants”.
He added that despite the fact PASYNO says its members do not want the pay rises to be implemented right away, he said the issue was clearly about salaries.