Cyprus Mail

State hospitals to open afternoons from September

File photo: Nicosia General Hospital

Doctors’ unions and the state health services organisation Okypy on Monday morning signed an agreement about the afternoon operation of state hospitals, which is set to begin on September 1.

The agreement brought to a close months of bickering in which President Nicos Anastasiades also became holding a meeting at presidential palace, a few weeks ago, in an attempt to bridge the differences.

It was agreed that in addition to their normal working hours, from September state hospitals will also operate between 3pm and 6pm on weekdays, in an effort to reduce waiting lists for operations. Afternoon work will cover both outpatient services and scheduled operations.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said he was satisfied with the outcome, which according to him was the result of “constructive and fruitful dialogue between all relevant bodies”.

“The ministry…had developed and implemented a pilot programme aimed at reducing waiting lists which ran from 2016 to January 31 2020, offering treatment to more than 282,080 patients,” he said.

The health ministry had pledged to extend opening hours to the afternoon after persistent requests from patients’ associations.

“With the signing of the agreement on afternoon hours, I am confident that we will be rid of any waiting lists created after the end of the pilot programme, but also due to the special conditions created at state hospitals because of the pandemic”.

Okypy CEO Kypros Stavrides also lauded the agreement, saying that its goals were to provide better services and more accessible health services at state hospitals, cut waiting lists and use hospital infrastructure and equipment more effectively.

Moisis Lambrou, head of Pasydy’s doctors faction, thanked everyone involved but reminded that “titles mean nothing to us. We are and will always be doctors”.

For his part, the Pasyki head Sotiris Koumas said that when there was a will, when everyone was willing to sit at the table, there was usually a way.

He added that the goal of the doctors “is to provide the best services to the Cypriot patient”.

At the same time, he thanked those who participated in the discussions, so that the agreement could be reached.

No mention was made of doctors’ pay, a large point of contention in previous discussions about extending hospital hours to the afternoon.

In April, nursing unions turned down Okypy’s pay offer for afternoon hours, demanding twice as much as they had been offered.

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