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HIO to appoint investigator to examine complaints after patients turned away

The Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) will appoint an investigator to examine complaints that three patients were turned away from A&E departments, its chief said on Friday.

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, Andreas Papaconstantinou said it had received a report from Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela over the incidents. Two women were turned away from a private hospital in Nicosia and a third patient in another district.

Hadjipantela threatened to revoke the licences of the doctors involved and charged the HIO with investigating the matter.

The issue sparked an uproar after it emerged a woman arrived at a private hospital on Christmas with an aortic aneurysm and, without being seen to when she arrived, was immediately told to go to the A&E department of the Nicosia general hospital.

The second one arrived complaining of a severe gastroenterological issue but was told to visit a different private hospital because all the specialists at the premises were on leave.

Hadjipantela also spoke of a third incident that took place at an A&E department of a private hospital in another district on Wednesday night where a patient was told to seek help at a public hospital.

Commenting on the matter Papaconstantinou said, “we received the complaints, a procedure will follow. An investigator will examine the case, speak to the hospitals so they can say their opinion, and based on the findings we will see how to proceed.”

“If the hospitals violated their contract and if so, to what degree, then there will be penalties.”

Papaconstantinou said only emergency rooms are obliged to work 24 hours and at this stage, it is only the Mediterranean hospital in Limassol and the state health services (Okypy).

He added the HIO has the details both from the minister and a citizen, noting that they were aware of the problem before the minister reported it.

Currently, the HIO is in talks to expand the hospitals offering emergency services offering 23 hours, including Apollonio hospital in Nicosia.

“In the same way we had a discussion about how GPs don’t work on weekends and holidays, we resolved this by creating health centres. We can approach this the same way and make hospitals offer 24-hour emergency services to help people that need urgent care. This is the solution.”

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