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More intensive care doctors weigh in on problems at Nicosia hospital

Nicosia general hospital

The reason doctors are leaving Nicosia General Hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) is not the salary, incentives, workload, political views or trade-union issues, but their inability to effectively serve the severely ill in a work environment that has seen years of misadministration, three intensive care doctors who have resigned in the last 18 months said on Thursday.
In a statement, doctors Angelos Rigas, Yiorgos Minas and Niki Pafitou weighed in on the ongoing row between Health Minister Yiorgos Pamboridis and state doctors’ union boss Soteris Koumas, who has maintained that the minister is at fault for failing to address long-standing issues at the unit.
“The situation has not improved, despite our repeated recommendations and protests, leaving us with the sole option of departing the unit we served for years with all our physical and mental strength,” the doctors said.
Their account matched that of Yiorgos Mixides, the latest doctor to resign from the unit, who said on Wednesday that his resignation had ‘nothing to do with politics, union matters, money, or the health minister’.
Koumas and the unit’s director, Dr Theodoros Kyprianou, argue that the top priority is staffing the unit according to international standards.
“Today, the ICU is operating outside international standards,” Kyprianou told state radio on Thursday.
“There is a 50-per-cent reduction on recommended staff numbers. The unit should have comprised one director, three deputy directors, and six intensivists. As of November 15, when the latest resignation becomes effective, it will actually have a total five medical staff.”
However, despite claims that the resignations are not wage-related, Kyprianou alluded to throwing money at the problem.
“People leave for a variety of reasons – the working conditions are very stressful and should be linked with certain incentives, which people didn’t have,” he said.
“A newly-appointed doctor [at the ICU] takes home €2,700 per month, irrespective of qualifications. Intensive-care doctors have two specialties, several doctors have a PhD, but this is what’s missing – there is no incentive for someone to stay on in such a difficult specialty.”
According to Kyprianou, possible solutions include recruiting doctors from Greece and transferring doctors trained in intensive care at the Nicosia General’s in-house training programme back to the ICU.
“These people are working elsewhere but, working conditions being what they are now, they wouldn’t of course want to come without added incentives,” he said.

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