Nurses union PASYNO announced on Tuesday it backs the refusal of nurses at Paralimni and Paphos hospitals at the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy units to be on call as they are not getting paid for their waiting time.
A union announcement said it had submitted “a long time ago a request for payment of the nurses of the two units [which offer decompression services to distressed divers] when on call, but the public administration and personnel department rejected it, which obliges us to support the decision of nurses for total abstinence”.
“Nurses of these units were working without any financial demands for six years, providing the on call service for free,” it said.
PASYNO’s spokesman Theodoros Petelis told the Cyprus Mail that the nurses, four in Paralimni and two in Paphos, decided they no longer want to be on call after the units close at 3pm as their request for compensation while on call has been rejected. He added that they are getting paid only when they are called in to attend an incident, but not when they receive no call.
“When they are on call, even if they are not asked to present for duty, they cannot go anywhere, their family and social life is on hold, as they must be ready to present if they are called in,” Petelis said. He added that this is the only service which is not being remunerated for being on call.
He said that if these nurses refuse to be on call any incident in need of a decompression chamber will be taken to the private sector, which costs between €10,000 and €15,000 per case.
“With the money paid for only one case, the government may cover the annual on call duty costs of these nurses,” Petelis said. The government, he said, on average earns between €50,000 and €100,000 per year from insurance payments made by foreign nationals, divers who need to be admitted to a decompression unit.
“If all cases are referred to the private sector, then the government will lose that source of income,” he said.
“These nurses are specially trained in diving episodes and realise the serious problems likely to arise from their decision to refrain from on call duty but they have no choice,” the union said.
The refusal of the government to satisfy the nurses’ request, PASYNO said, “creates serious doubts and suspicions” as it satisfies private interests.
The units, the union said, “are of state-of-the-art technology and are staffed with qualified medical and nursing staff, and cost the state a respectable amount, not only for the purchase of the equipment but also for their maintenance.”