Cyprus Mail

Hospital staff only there to offer therapy Okypy says after convict escape

The Athalassa psychiatric hospital

Hospital staff operate in a purely therapeutic capacity, state health services (Okypy) spokesman Charalambos Charilaou said on Tuesday, adding that nurses and doctors cannot be expected to stand in the way of a patient breaking down a door.

He was commenting on the escaped convict from Athalassa hospital who fled the facility on Sunday.

On Monday central prisons authorities attributed responsibility for the patient to decisions made by the hospital staff.

According to an official statement by the prisons authorities, under a 2016 protocol for such situations, the hospital providing psychiatric services undertakes to fully care for a transferred inmate, unless the hospital makes a specific request for a police guard.

The protocol provides for the psychiatrist to be fully informed of the patient’s history and all parties are supposed to jointly evaluate a patient upon admission.

Asked whether it appears odd that an inmate would automatically receive police escort for other kinds of hospital or medical care facility stays, but not for psychiatric facilities, Charilaou said the difference was that the latter was court ordered care, whereas this is not usually the case for other kinds of treatments.

The paradox is that a non-psychiatric illness might make the patient less likely to attempt an escape, whether or not they are automatically assigned a guard, since the visit is voluntary, however, this point was not clarified.

Charilaou conceded that a review of the protocol is in order, and said this has been requested, adding that other incidents of escaped psychiatric patients have occurred, but not of patients who were also serving a prison sentence at the time of their admission.

The 40-year-old convict who escaped Athalassa on Sunday turned himself into the prison service on Monday afternoon.

He had been under mandatory hospitalisation and kept at the facility since January 5.


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