Conditions for patients and staff alike at the Athalassa psychiatric hospital are at breaking point, which could lead to a disaster, a nurses union warned on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Pasyno union sent out a distress call, noting that the hospital “remains at the mercy of the state yet again, and especially now during the festive season, while at the same time cases of Covid-19 and of the new variant are increasing and multiplying.”

The union went on to describe the staff and patients at Athalassa as “children of a lesser god, abandoned by society and the state… It is not enough that they are away from their families, in a healthcare facility with abysmal conditions, they are also stacked on top of each other, as occupancy has long surpassed acceptable levels.”

The nurses said they are “struggling tooth and nail to manage the situation, but it is now beyond our capabilities.”

They reiterated the long-standing problems of overcrowding as well as understaffing.

The union said its members “express their deep concern and fear that one day they will witness something bad happening, which they will not be able to avert and for which they will bear no responsibility.”

In particular, staff drew attention to the risks in ward 37 – which they recently communicated to the relevant authorities but have yet to receive any response.

Months ago staff warned that ward 37 was treating 30 patients, whereas its optimal capacity was for 20.

Back in August, a health professional there told the Cyprus Mail of increased admissions, forcing staff to pull overtime – and this amid a backdrop of a number of Covid patients, putting extra strain on the hospital.

At the time, the hospital was treating 117 patients, whereas its capacity was for 101.

The facility has a dedicated ward for treating inpatients who have contracted the coronavirus.