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State doctors call on ministry to ‘end fruitless political game’ over public health

State doctors union PASYKI said on Sunday it was stunned over the row between the health minister and the head of the state health sector at a time when public health services were beset by huge problems.

In a statement, the union called on the health ministry “to end the fruitless political blame game and to engage directly in an effective and constructive dialogue with PASYKI for a realistic and comprehensive solution to the many problems facing the public health sector”.

“The ministry of health was and is aware of the staffing and multiple other problems plaguing state hospitals and has long failed to provide solutions,” it added.

It urged those responsible “to put aside their differences, to listen to the concerns of health professionals and to finally deal seriously and responsibly with the issues and provide the necessary solutions.”

PASYKI added that the release and approval of funds for state hospitals was an issue for the finance ministry an called on it to no longer consider the health sector budget as one of strategic planning or as an expense and more “as a health investment in the Cypriot citizen.”

The latest spat in the sector emerged on Friday when it was reported that the only doctor at the Paphos gynaecology department had collapsed on Thursday from overwork, PASYKI head Soteris Koumas said, and the health ministry had to revoke the sick leave of the second doctor from the clinic so he could return to his duties.

The collapsed doctor, it was reported he was pulling 24-hour shifts to cope with the workload, as the second gynaecologist was on sick leave. The problem goes back eight months even though the hospital’s management has sent many letters to the health ministry asking for extra physicians, the union said.

The head of the state medical service Petros Matsas, acknowledged there was a grave problem, but said that they could not find any physicians interested in taking up the empty posts due to the working hours and wages.

“We are searching for gynaecologists,” he said, “but we cannot find anyone available to be placed in the public service. No one is interested”.

He added that the health ministry was trying to find doctors, even from Greece, but so far it was not possible to find someone.

He said that other state hospital clinics in Limassol and Nicosia faced the same problem so it is not possible to transfer doctors from one clinic to another.

Matsas said that he had been bringing the issue to the attention of Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis, and the ministry’s permanent secretary Christina Yiannaki since February.

PASYKI said in its announcement on Sunday that the difficulties in finding doctors to work in the state sector was not new and that the union had sent the ministry plenty of documents, findings and warnings about the situation.

“The confession of the director of medical services for the causes of the situation in state hospitals sadly confirms our concerns,” it added.

President Nicos Anastasiades waded into the row on Saturday saying he had asked Pamboridis to inform him of all shortages in the health sector so empty posts can be promptly filled.

“No one should mislead and be misled on health issues, especially the President of the Republic,” he said.

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