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250 nurses ‘doing anything but nursing’

House finance committee
Friday's House finance committee

Around 250 seconded nurses are being forced to perform other duties in addition to or instead of their own jobs, leaving hospitals short of nurses, nurses’ union Pasyno chairman Christos Christodoulou said on Friday.

Christodoulou was addressing the House finance committee and explained that nurses are the largest single profession being seconded from the public sector to the State health services (Okypy) – around 3,500 in total.

However, he said, a not inconsiderable proportion of those 3,500 nurses’ time is being misused.

In this regard, he said “we will have serious problems in the end if no one takes control.

“Instead of being on wards and working in clinical positions, they go to Okypy, who then send them somewhere else, and hospitals are being left without nurses.”

He said the nurses are “doing anything but nursing”, adding that there is a “rampant trend of nurses being sent to do other things without replacement.”

Committee chairwoman and Diko MP Christiana Erotokritou said, “I cannot have a shortage of nurses with all the consequences thereof and then have 250 nurses performing clerical duties.”

She described the issue as a “pathogen” and said the matter should be discussed in the House health committee.

The matter of nurses’ secondments came to the fore in the committee meeting as MPs were discussing a bill to lift the limitation regarding the maximum duration of a public sector secondment.

Disy MP Onoufrios Koulla said the bill “introduces in a different way another concept that we would have otherwise introduced anyway,” saying that his party had long maintained that it should be possible to permanently transfer a public sector employee from one branch of the public sector to another.

“For us, the state is a single employer,” he said.

He added that “what we need to see are the correct organisational charts of each ministry and each department” with a view to conducting a “systematic review” into staffing.

This should be done, he said, “especially at a time when we are trying to invest a few hundred million euros into e-government.”

Akel MP Andreas Kafkalias said the move does not go far enough, saying “a more substantial act should have been put forward by the executive.”

“Let’s see what we have done so far, what we have achieved through the current legislation, evaluate the data, and let the executive come through a dialogue with the trade unions and seriously and responsibly discuss solutions,” he said.

A representative from trade union Sek said the union “applauds the new effort being made,” and added that existing problems are “slowly being corrected”.

Representatives of unions Pasydy and civil servants’ union Asdyk were both in favour of the bill but called on MPs to bring forward amendments to make it “fairer for employees”.

They argued for the possibility of an open list being created, on which employees who are open to being seconded could register themselves.

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