With Cyprus hospitals full to bursting, questions have been asked after the situation seemed to peak with a man who had suffered a stroke reportedly left waiting at Paphos hospital’s A&E “for hours” on Saturday.
The issue was brought to light by Paphos mayor Phedonas Phedonos, who said there were no beds in the hospital and called the situation “a disgrace”.
Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, state health services organisation Okypy spokesman Charalambos Charilaou on Tuesday confirmed that Cyprus hospitals are all at least at 90 per cent full, but did not point to any underlying cause for the increased numbers.
The patient in Paphos was eventually transported to Limassol, where the general hospital was also full, before eventually receiving treatment at a private hospital.
Okypy said “the hospital in Paphos, as well as the one in Limassol, is full once again”.
Following the incident, state doctors’ union (Pasyki) chairman Sotiris Koumas said Paphos general hospital “is over-full and under-staffed”.
Pointing to one of the potential causes of the staff shortage, he said “we are already in the last week of July and theoretically the doctors who have been hired by Paphos’ A&E should have come to work already”.
He said that a total of 20 beds which were open before the pandemic are now “suddenly unable to operate”, and that similar problems are being seen in other parts of the country.
Health minister Popi Kanari weighed in on the issue on CyBC radio on Monday morning, apportioning part of the blame to the seasonal increase in Paphos’ population.
“Between about halfway through July and the end of August, the population of coastal towns like Paphos and Famagusta grows. In Paphos, for example, if the population is normally around 50,000, it grows to around 75,000 or even 100,000 in summer,” she said.
She also noted that Paphos hospital is small, and that its size problem has been exacerbated by renovation works which should have been completed earlier in the year but have been delayed.
She said these renovation works have limited the hospital’s capacity and are now set to be completed in September.
Afterwards, she hit out at the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO), saying it needs to “take responsibility” for the situation.
She added that communication lines between hospitals and other healthcare providers should be in place to allow the seamless transfer of patients between them and for them to be cognizant of each other’s capacity and the population.