THE health ministry said on Thursday there was no policy of removing a child’s parents or guardians from examination rooms during certain medical procedures.
The ministry was responding to a petition, which calls for the lifting of the “outdated practice” in public hospitals.
“On the contrary, we favour cooperation with parents as they can soothe the child and keep it calm, during medical procedures,” a health ministry spokeswoman told the Cyprus Mail.
There are however cases, she said, when parents create unnecessary panic which affects the child. “There is no regulation forcing parents to leave, it is up to each doctor to decide”.
The petition was launched by a group called ‘Attachment parenting, Mamades stin Kypro (Mothers in Cyprus)’, and it is addressed to the health minister, the children’s rights commissioner, and the House health committee. So far, it has gathered more than 1,100 signatures.
“Many parents, at times of medical needs, were forced, despite their opposition, to leave the side of their child with the excuse of an internal rule, which has never been presented in writing to anyone,” the petition said.
In most cases, it said, the child went through the medical procedure without a familiar face by his or her side. This leads to a traumatic experience for the child and affected parent-child relationships as youngsters can feel abandonment, fear, pain and panic, it said.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, it said, which was ratified by Cyprus, was adopted by the UN General Assembly to protect children and ensure their prosperity.
“Furthermore, coercion of a parent/escort to leave the room where the medical procedure is to be performed, implies that otherwise the nurse will not proceed with the necessary medical procedure,” it the group said, adding that this was not far removed from blackmail.
“We want the prompt intervention of competent authorities, for the immediate end of this dangerous for mental and physical health of children and parents practice […],” the petition said.
“I’m signing because my son from the age of 2-5 was in and out of hospital. Once I stood my ground and demanded to stay with him he was much calmer. A mother knows what’s best for her child,” one parents who signed the petition said.
Another signatory, a mother and a medic, said that the practice “is psychologically and emotionally unacceptable both for the child and for the parent,” as well as illegal, as the child has no “mental capacity to consent or refuse clinical examinations and procedures”.