A spat broke out on Thursday between the state health service organisation (Okypy) and the nurse’s union Pasyno, after the latter claimed that patients at the Athalassa Psychiatric Hospital were sleeping on couches and not in beds as there was no place to put them.

However, Okypy, which manages the state hospitals, hit back saying that there was an entirely empty ward the patients could have been put in, as it had been previously used for Covid-19 patients, of there were none.

Speaking to CyBC, Okypy spokesman Pambos Charilaou said that there was an empty ward for the patients, but they chose to sleep on the couches in Athalassa.

Charilaou added that this situation is becoming practice at Athalassa, and no measures are being taken to solve the issue.

Commenting on the criticism from the nurses’ union, he said that Okypy had to step in to solve the problem, after the organisation said it would look into the matter.

He conceded that the hospital is full and needs to be upgraded, while he added that by April 2024 two new wards for the hospital will be ready to use.

Meanwhile, Pasyno said: “The Athalassa hospital is once again pushed to the edge of a cliff due to the overcrowding of patients and the unacceptable and inexcusable attitude of Okypy, who do not realise the magnitude of the problems.”

They added that the hospital operates purely due to the ambitious work of the nursing staff, despite there being an increasing number of patients.

The union also said that patients’ human rights are being violated, and there is a degradation of the quality of their treatment, and an increase in the risk of relapse for the mentally ill. It also stated that “the nursing staff is exposed for the umpteenth time to increased risks due to the increasing number of patients and the already burdened work schedule.”

Pasyno requested the house speaker, the health minister, and the members of the health committee to visit the hospital and learn first-hand about the problems of the patients and the condition of the hospital in general, so that they can exert pressure to find solutions.