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Union calls for action after nurse attacked in hospital (Update 3)

Three British women are under arrest following an alleged assault on a nurse at Paphos’ general hospital amid a wave of condemnations by nurses’ unions and the ministry of health.

All three fled the scene, but a 22-year-old was arrested hours later. She appeared before Paphos district court on Monday and was remanded in police custody for two days.

The other two, aged 20 and 22 respectively were tracked down and arrested around midday on Monday, the Cyprus News Agency reported.

A Paphos police spokesman said the three were being held in connection with a case of drunkenness, causing a disturbance in the A&E, assaulting a police officer, public insults, assaulting and causing real bodily harm to a nurse and escaping legal detention.

He said the incident occurred around 4 am on Sunday after three young women, in a state of intoxication, were taken by ambulance to the A&E of Paphos hospital where they caused a disturbance, shouted, swore, and then assaulted a nurse, injuring her on the head.

The police officer on duty intervened and informed them they were under arrest, but they fled. Arrest warrants were issued, with the first woman and then the other two eventually being detained.

The incident has prompted angry condemnations from unions who have called on authorities to act.

The health minister also condemned the incident and has called a meeting with the state health services organisation (Okypy) and nurses’ unions for Tuesday to discuss the safety of hospital staff.

In a statement on Monday, civil servants’ union Pasydy slammed the state and the hospital’s management for “the inability to protect health professionals.”

Pasyno, the Cyprus Union of Nurses, also issued a hard-hitting statement, saying it would not tolerate nurses being used as punching bags.

And the Cyprus Nurses and Midwives Association (Pasynm) sent an open letter to the health, labour and justice ministers, the chief of police, the House health committee and Okypy calling for action.

“Once again we are witnessing sad incidents where hospital staff are attacked while performing their duties by violent patients,” the Pasydy statement said.

In its statement, Pasyno called for effective measures to stop such behaviour by people under the influence of alcohol or other substances, or impatient for treatment.

“Our trade union will no longer accept such behaviour against nurses by visitors to the A&E or other hospital departments and we call on the state to act immediately and effectively,” it said.

The state has failed to act, and must do so now to protect nursing staff, Pasyno said in reference to previous incidents of unruly patients attacking health care professionals, adding that police should do their bit and take offenders to court.

Pasynm credited authorities with having taken some initial measures to increase security at A&E departments, but these were inadequate as there were frequent incidents of verbal, physical and psychological abuse by patients and those accompanying them.

In a written announcement also on Monday, the health ministry said minister Michalis Hadjipantela had immediately contacted the chief of police to investigate the incident.

Hadjipantela also spoke with the president of the nursing staff branch of Pasydy and the nurse who was assaulted to wish her a speedy recovery and to underline the ministry’s support.

The minister unreservedly condemned such actions and any act of violence against health professionals on duty.

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