Cyprus Mail

Mental health nurses stage protest as MPs meet (Updated)

mental health nurses filoxenia

The state health services organisation (Okypy) on Thursday announced the construction of new facilities to replace the 1964 building of Athalassa mental hospital, as the House health committee discussed the issues of mental health services.

“Actions are being taken for the development of eight additional beds in Limassol general hospital’s psychiatric ward for compulsory psychiatric treatment within the month as well as the establishment of another ten beds in an external structure to transfer chronic cases that are treated in the Athalassa hospital,” Okypy said.

The organisation’s announcement was a response to a peaceful protest staged by a delegation of mental health nurses early on Thursday.

With banners reading slogans for “better working conditions”, about 30 nurses from Pasyno and Pasyki trade unions and the mental health branch of Pasydy joined forces outside the building where the House health committee met at 10.30am to discuss issues concerning the mental health sector. Representatives from the mental health nurses also attended the committee.

“We are here to apply pressure on the relevant authorities in hope the long-standing problems of Athalassa Hospital will get resolved,” one nurse told the Cyprus Mail.

Athalassa, based in Nicosia, is the only mental facility in Cyprus for compulsory psychiatric treatment. Its building, built in 1964, has “severe foundation cracks” while certain rooms were deemed inappropriate for human habitation.

The hospital is also facing issues of overcrowding reaching more than 130 per cent of its capacity amidst the coronavirus pandemic which has taken a toll on people’s mental health.

Okypy announced that the budget for the construction of a modern unit in Nicosia was approved and is expected to be completed within the next two or three years.

“The unit will include 156 beds, as well as other external structures. The first phase of the project will be announced in April,” the body said.

But promises for the construction of new buildings have been heard over the last two decades and never materialised. The president of the state nurses union Pasydy Andreas Andreou told the health committee that “despite commitments of the ministers of health and transport to start planning for the construction of the new wards since last November, the so-called ‘master plan’ has not yet started”.





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