State doctors said they will join nurses in a two-hour strike on Wednesday, staged after an attack against two nurses at the Nicosia general hospital A&E.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, state doctors union Pasyki said it not only supported the strike, scheduled between 12pm and 2pm, but it was also taking part.
“Violent incidents against doctors and nurses in hospitals have become a frequent phenomenon and so far, despite our actions and the employer’s announcements, not one step has been made to stop them,” Pasyki said.
The union stressed that only doctors in A&E departments will be taking part and no lives will be put at risk during the strike.
The latest incident took place early Sunday, at around 1.30am, when a 33-year-old man escorting his father as a patient, reportedly attacked and hurt two female nurses, hurled items in the room and insults at everyone present.
The man – who was reportedly drunk – was angry because he felt staff did not pay due attention to his father.
Striking nurses and doctors say they are no longer willing to tolerate such behaviour against them and claim that the authorities should have taken the necessary measures long ago, as such instances are not uncommon.
“No action has been taken,” head of nurses’ union Pasyno Giorgos Georgiou said.
“It was only after this particular incident that we see the will to move forward. But we can’t wait until we’ve been beaten up to move forward. We have to take some measures. And this [strike] is one such measure.”
Civil servants’ union Pasydy’s rep Prodromos Argyrides blamed the incidents on the public’s perception that state hospitals are generally slow and inefficient.
“The main reason for these incidents is the mentality fostered that if you go to the hospital and don’t make a ruckus, you won’t be attended to,” he said.
“We believe this is the primary cause of such incidents, and will focus on it.”
Speaking on state broadcaster CyBC, Health minister Yiorgos Pamboridis said “bullies must be made an example of”.
Acknowledging that the current regime isn’t working, Pamboridis has issued instructions to procure the services of private security guards to be posted at the high-risk spots that have seen the most such incidents.
On another front, he has announced plans to meet the attorney-general in the coming days to kick-start the process of legislating harsher penalties for the perpetrators of such incidents.
“These things must not be treated as common assault – as if a civilian has attacked another civilian,” he said.
“It must be taken into account that the assault was against an on-duty health professional, and the penalties must be harsher.”