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Understaffing at neonatal care units might have dangerous consequences, Pasyno warns

The neonatal intensive care unit at Makarios children’s hospital is at serious risk of overcrowding because of staff shortages, nurses’ union Pasyno warned on Saturday.

In a statement, the union said that if problems are not immediately addressed this might endanger the safety of infants in need of hospitalisation, “with the possibility of unpleasant developments”.

Pasyno explained that according to regulations agreed upon by the union and the state health services (Okypy), there are established proportions between patients and nurses that should be observed.

The Makarios hospital unit employed 68 nurses to care for 48 babies, when there should have been 90, the statement said, adding that 57 more babies recently entered the unit with no change to staff numbers “despite Okypy telling the House health committee these would be covered”.

The statement added that the union has repeatedly explained during meetings with Okypy that Makarios hospital’s wards must be adequately staffed to ensure professionals are working safely to provide children with the best possible care.

“Staffing Makarios hospital is obviously not among Okypy’s management’s priorities, which has resulted in serious understaffing,” despite the fact it has the island’s main neonatal care unit, serving both Gesy and the private sector, Pasyno added.

At the same time, the statement said that Limassol general hospital’s neonatal care unit is dangerously over capacity, with 21 nurses caring for 15 babies where there should have been 31.

“We are surprised by Okypy’s behaviour as it acts without taking into account the opinions and concerns of colleagues, or those of unions who present scientifically-backed proposals for safe staffing based on international standards”.

The union finally said it will call on its members to authorise it to take all necessary measures for the health and safety of all infants.

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