The State Health Services (Okypy) spokesperson Charalambos Charilaou said on Wednesday that his organisation employs the largest number of nurses within the national health scheme Gesy and is working to fully utilise all nursing staff wherever they are needed.

“Our efforts are constantly aimed at addressing staffing shortages,” Charilaou told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA).

Nurses represented by trade unions Pasyno and Pasysy have voiced their concerns in the past days, claiming there is understaffing in state hospitals and that Okypy is not implementing a previous agreement stipulated between the parties to hire an additional 138 nurses.

As a result, nurses across the island are planning a one-hour work stoppage on Thursday from noon to 1pm.

Charilaou said that “staffing is an ongoing effort and that Okypy has hired a significant number of nurses in recent years.”

Regarding the planned work stoppage, he acknowledged the unions’ right to take action, but refused to comment on behalf of Okypy.

Responding to the accusations moved to the organisation by the unions, which spoke of “misleading statements” as far as additional hirings are concerned, Charilaou said Okypy has always been transparent.

“We present numbers and facts. Our effort is not to mislead or be misled. Our collective goal is the proper management of nursing staff for the benefit of patients,” he said.

Asked about the unions’ plans for further action, he added that the organisation is open to discuss all issues.

“We are here to discuss problems with the unions and we are confident that through dialogue and proper communication, all problems will be resolved,” he said.

In response to Charilaou, Pasyno spokesperson Theodoros Petelis said the planned work stoppage “will send a strong message to Okypy.”

“With this protest, we want to show the public that the current situation is unsustainable for us as workers and highlight the state of the hospitals, which are affected by administrative problems,” he said.

Echoing Petelis, Pasydy’s head Prodromos Argyrides said the lack of action by Okypy in response to understaffing issues prompted the unions to act.

“After our efforts to get a response and proper handling of the agreement we made, which has not been implemented, we will proceed with a one-hour protest on Thursday,” he confirmed.

Nursing staff will gather at hospital entrances all over Cyprus to protest, he added.

“We will use all our available means to claim our rightful demands.”