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Okypy, nurses wrangle over staffing numbers

Nurses on strike last year

Only a small number of nurses are still needed to meet requirement, spokesman of the state heath services organisation Okypy Charalambos Charilaou said on Tuesday after state nurses’ unions accused their employer of not honouring an agreement to hire more staff.

State nurses’ unions Pasyno and Pasydy called on Okypy to hire more staff, citing problems in public hospitals and the need to be prepared in case the epidemiological picture worsens.

Pasyno had also warned of measures unless Okypy hires the number of staff it agreed to in June. Spokesman of the union Theodoros Petelis said the agreement was to hire 160 nurses promptly while another 100 or so would be gradually hired until the end of February.

Petelis told CyBC that 160 had been hired but that Okypy should not wait to hire the rest at a later stage citing the needs that emerged due to the coronavirus pandemic and the increase in admissions of Covid patients to state hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs).

“When the agreement was made, conditions were different than today,” he said.

Head of Pasydy’s nurses’ branch Prodromos Argyrides also said that despite reassurances by officials, the situation in the ICUs was difficult.

Argyrides also stressed the need to have staff ready to meet increasing needs.

“We are ready and willing to offer our services, but we need the weapons to work in conditions of safety and also protect our colleagues,” he said.

Charilaou, however, countered that only 34 people are still needed, since most of the empty posts have been filled and the successful candidates have signed contracts and are expected to assume duties.

He said that 170 nurses were hired as per the agreement for the first phase, another 18 were to be hired in December for the ambulance crew, contracts were signed to replace 13 nurses who are retiring, while 34 people need to be hired to also man ambulances.

As regards Nicosia general’s ICU, he said it has been staffed to serve more than 20 beds, while it now has 11 patients.

Charilaou also said they closed beds in clinics not dealing with coronavirus patients so that staff to be sent to clinics dealing with Covid-19 patients.

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