Nursing and midwifery unions on Thursday called on the state to help improve the image of their profession by tackling working conditions, wage scales and other terms of employment through collective employment agreements.

In a joint statement regarding staff shortages in nursing and midwifery, the unions said these can be drastically reduced if the state takes targeted measures such as promoting the profession in schools and through university incentives, so as to increase interest in studying these fields.

On the ongoing debate on hiring third country nationals, the unions said they have held separate meetings with the health ministry, sending a joint letter stressing that no deviation from requirements laid out on the legislation regarding the nurses’ register will be accepted.

They repeated that the current law designates the Cyprus Nursing and Midwifery Council as the competent body which determines the “minimum safe level” of knowledge of the Greek language for nurses whose first language is not Greek.

“Any reduction or deletion of the relevant article in the legislation will have a direct impact on the quality of nursing services provided by hospitals,” they said.

“No derogation will be accepted from Directive 2005/36/of the European Parliament and of the Council of September 7, 2005, on the recognition of professional qualifications,” the unions said.

At the same time they pointed out the potential risk of third country nationals using Cyprus as a bridge for then going on to work elsewhere in the EU, adding that in order to be able to hire these individuals, hospitals must, as a prerequisite, have a renewed collective agreement signed by trade unions Sek and Peo ensuring that the terms of the contract will apply in their entirety to all employees including employees from third countries.

Finally, the unions expressed their readiness to submit again in detail their positions and proposals on the matter.