Cyprus Mail

Certain nurses ineligible for financial aid because they earned too much during Covid

Parliamentarians on Tuesday censured the state for refusing to provide financial assistance to nurses who also happen to be designated as displaced persons, apparently on the grounds that they became ineligible for such assistance by earning too much during the Covid pandemic.

The matter concerns about 15 to 20 people – nurses who are designated as displaced persons or refugees.

They applied for state assistance to build a home, which registered refugees are entitled to. However, the relevant government department denied their application, on the grounds that they did not meet the means-testing criteria – their earnings were too high for the period in which they applied.

The reason is that during the Covid pandemic the nurses in question had put in a great deal of overtime work, resulting in increased earnings.

Testifying at the House refugees committee, one affected nurse said she had worked at a maternity ward prior to being commandeered to work at the Famagusta general hospital – the reference hospital for Covid patients.

She still works at the Famagusta hospital to this day.

No nurse at the time was able to refuse being commandeered, she added.

Due to understaffing, she had to work overtime – 412 hours.

In 2020, when applying for housing assistance as a refugee, her application was denied as her total earnings for that year were about €6,000 higher than the threshold.

The nurse said she felt disappointed, adding that she had helped fight the Covid pandemic only to be later “punished” for it.

An interior ministry official explained that, whenever a displaced person makes extra earnings – for example from overtime work – that are a ‘one-off’, these are not calculated as part of their normal earnings, so their application is not normally denied.

However, the application is denied whenever such extra earnings are deemed to be ‘recurring’.

MPs called on the interior minister to look into these cases on an individual basis, If not, they said they would draft a bill to remedy this “injustice.”

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