Cyprus Mail
Cyprus Health

President embarks on health sector fact-finding mission

Φωτογραφικό στιγμιότυπο από το τμήμα Πρώτων Βοηθειών του Γενικού Νοσοκομείου Λευκωσίας, Τρίτη 29 Ιανουαρίου 2015. ΚΥΠΕ/ΚΑΤΙΑ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΔΟΥΛΟΥ

The president on Monday asked for a detailed list of doctor shortages, as he took it upon himself to resolve the problems faced by the health sector and push for implementation of the national health scheme (NHS).
The Cyprus News Agency reported that President Nicos Anastasiades expected the list by Monday evening. It also quoted a presidential palace source as saying the president had no issue with the health minister.
Anastasiades at a meeting attended by the ministers of finance and health, and health ministry officials, the president asked for a list of actual doctor shortages according to specialty and figures regarding waiting lists and referrals to the private sector.
The list will be prepared by the director of medical services Petros Matsas.
The meeting discussed the lack of personnel, working hours, waiting lists, as well as consultations with nurses over the process of making hospitals autonomous, a prerequisite for the NHS.
On Tuesday, the president will meet with doctors’ and nurses’ unions, while meetings with political parties could take place later this week or the next.
State doctors claim that all the problems faced by hospitals were due to the lack of staff and accused the ministry of being indifferent.
On Friday, head of state doctors’ union PASYKI, Soteris Koumas, said that the only gynaecologist at Paphos general hospital had collapsed due to overwork and that another doctor who was on sick leave had to be asked to return to his duties.
Matsas also admitted that several departments in state hospitals faced the same problem. He said they were trying to hire gynaecologists for the Paphos hospital but had had no luck as both the salary offered and the working conditions were unappealing.
Also Friday, Anastasiades said he was misled over health matters, without however, elaborating.
PASYKI denied ever misleading the president and suggested that it was the ministry.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Koumas said his union had informed the government repeatedly over the lack of staff.
“Unfortunately, the reply we got was that the number of doctors was the same, and this data was also given to the president who presented it during a news conference on April 20,” Koumas said.
The head of PASYKI said around 200 doctors were needed.
“We’ll have a detailed discussion so that proper allocation is done. It should not be just a numerical approach,” he said. “We’ve seen where the numerical approach ended up.”
Koumas said Limassol hospital alone needed 35 to 40 doctors.
“Certainly it was not PASYKI that misled (the president),” Koumas said. He added that the health ministry theoretically had 720 doctors whom it must allocate properly.
At the same time though, there was also the finance ministry, Koumas said, suggesting that the figures the president quoted were given to him by the two ministries.
“The necessary explanations must be given by these two departments.”
Nurses’ union PASYNO said the NHS could not be implemented successfully if hospitals remained understaffed.
PASYNO said lack of staff in state hospitals also affected nurses.
Despite the steep rise in patient numbers – PASYNO puts it between 80 per cent and 85 per cent – because of the economic crisis, the number of nurses remained the same.

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