President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday was updated on the action plan of state health services organisation Okypy regarding the issues of staffing of state hospitals, the extension of operating hours and overcrowding at accident and emergency departments.
The problems at public hospitals were discussed during a meeting between the president, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas and Okypy representatives.
The president had called the meeting so he could be informed about the issues and a timeframe for possible solutions.
“The president asked for a close cooperation between Okypy and health ministry, so we can solve these issues,” Hadjipantelas said after the meeting, adding that the issues will also be discussed with the unions on Friday.
According to Okypy’s general executive director Christos Loizides, the action plan issues will be implemented by the end of the month, citing a “recession of the pandemic”.
The action plan will be sent to the president within days and include a timetable for implementation.
A second meeting was also scheduled for Tuesday to include the federation of patients’ associations (Osak) and state doctors’ union Pasyki.
State hospitals have been heavily criticised in recent days for delays in appointments for various specialities, operations and long waiting times in the A&E departments.
Earlier on Monday, state nurses’ union of Pasydy announced a demonstration scheduled for this Thursday to protest the understaffing of the neonatal intensive care unit at Makarios children’s hospital.
The protest will be held outside parliament during a health committee’s session.
The unit will not be affected by the demonstration as only nurses who have the time off will participate, the union said.
The Makarios hospital unit employed 68 nurses to care for 48 babies, when there should have been 90, while 57 more babies recently entered the unit with no change to staff numbers “despite Okypy telling the House health committee these would be covered”, Pasyno said in a statement late on Friday.
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”.
Last week, the head of the federation of patients’ association Marios Kouloumas reported to the Cyprus Mail that Okypy is unable to resolve the serious issues at state hospitals, thus leading the state health facilities “downhill”.
“There is serious inability and disorganisation. It is impossible to respond to the needs of the patients,” Kouloumas said.
Meanwhile, efforts are being made to extend public hospitals’ operation hours to the afternoon, with Okypy saying the extension should be implemented this year.
Doctors and nurses’ unions are currently evaluating a proposal by Okypy to allocate 20 per cent of revenues stemming from potential state hospital’s afternoon operations to state doctors.
Okypy’s spokesman Charalambos Charilaou had said that operations will be extended until 5.30pm or 6pm over the winter and until 7pm during the summer.