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Probe launched into taxi death of sick pensioner on way to hospital

Police on Wednesday launched an investigation into Polis Chrysochous hospital for possible medical negligence after a pensioner who visited the facility died in a taxi on his way to Paphos general hospital, where he was referred.

Christos Nicolaou, scientific director of Limassol and Paphos hospitals also reportedly asked for a report on the incident as Polis Chrysochous mayor Yiotis Papachristofi and main opposition party Akel criticised the government for failing to provide the hospital with a second ambulance and an inpatient ward.

Reports said relatives of 77-year-old fisherman Paraskevas Pavlou have complained over the way his case was handled at the local hospital.

Pavlou reportedly visited Polis Chrysochous hospital early in the evening with intense pains in the abdomen.

The doctor on duty referred him to the general hospital of Paphos which is a 40 to 60 minute drive away (35-43km) without providing an ambulance for his transport.

As a result, the man paid a taxi but died on his way to the hospital.

In a written statement, Akel said that despite objections by the Paphos branch of the party, the state health services organisation (Okypy) suspended the operation of the ward for inpatient treatment in September, for a second time in three months.

The decision was taken, according to Akel, following the relocation of staff to other hospitals during the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, Polis Chrysochous hospital continues to operate without an inpatient ward as medical and nursing staff were transferred to support the Paphos and Limassol general hospitals due to the increased hospitalisations of Covid-19 patients,” the party said.

However, closing wards in state hospitals of remote areas is not a solution, Akel’s announcement said, adding that “a large number of residents” receive services from the specific hospital.

On top of that, the hospital only has one ambulance, resulting to some patients having to use private cars or taxis for their transport to Paphos general hospital which can lead to “tragic consequences”.

Papachristofi explained that while the hospital has three ambulances, only one is operational, forcing the hospital to only use it for extremely serious cases, while only one ambulance crew is on call from 7pm to 7am.

He added that as a result, the local hospital could not respond to an accident that took place in the area and instead an ambulance was sent from Peyia.

Akel added that despite the “repeated appeals” of the party, the government did not take the necessary measures in time to prepare the public hospitals to face the new waves of the pandemic.

The party called on the state and Okypy to take the appropriate measures for the reopening of the inpatient ward and to secure a second ambulance at the hospital.

Papachristofi said that a demonstration has been organised for this coming Saturday, to protest the understaffing of the local police station and “the downgrading of Polis Chrysochous hospital”.

Paphos police deputy chief Michalis Ioannou said that police are investigating whether the incident was sudden or unnatural, also taking into account the possibility of medical negligence.

He added the results of a post-mortem, which has not been scheduled yet, will help.

For its part, the state health services organisation, Okypy, has asked for a report on the case.

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