The state will exhibit a zero-tolerance policy against people who attack medical staff, Health Minister Giorgos Pamborides said on Wednesday, as state nurses and doctors went on a two-hour work stoppage to protest the authorities’ failure to prevent attacks against them.
Pasyno union announced the strike on Monday after a 33-year-old man who was escorting his father at the Nicosia general hospital’s A&E department attacked two female nurses the previous day. The man – who was reportedly drunk – was angry because he felt staff did not pay due attention to his father.
According to Pasyno, this was the 12th such incident this year in state hospitals without anyone being arrested, while the government has done nothing to prevent them. State doctors also took part in the stoppage.
“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,” the doctors’ union Pasyki said.
The union stressed that only doctors in A&E departments took part.
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.
Acknowledging that the current regime isn’t working, Pamboridis said he 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.
He also 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.
“It must be taken into account that the assault was against an on-duty health professional, and the penalties must be harsher.”
Pamborides said he had received clear orders from President Nicos Anastasiades to spearhead the necessary changes as soon as possible.
“Such instances will not be tolerated. Zero tolerance is a completely justified request and we will fully support it.”
The health minister said they were on the same page with the unions on this and thanked them for taking the necessary precautions so as not to trouble members of the public.