By Athena Karsera
Nurses at state hospitals have reached the end of their tether about their workplace safety following another violent incident, at Limassol hospital, involving a drunk patient and suggest a policy overhaul is the only way to rectify the situation.
State nurses union Pasyno on Tuesday gave the state two weeks to improve conditions or nurses would be instructed to refuse to provide treatment to aggressive patients while a union representative earlier told the Cyprus Weekly he wondered if someone had to die before concrete action was taken.
Following a board meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Pasyno said: “In the interest of showing goodwill and cooperation, and in the interest of patients and public health, the union board has decided to give the official side two weeks to discuss and find solutions for the protection of state hospital workers from instances of violence”.
Pasyno said it had taken the initiative to try to get all the stakeholders together to discuss the issue.
“If there are no positive developments, Pasyno has decided to call on its members not to treat any patients who demonstrate violence towards the nurses”.
Speaking to the Cyprus Weekly on behalf of Pasyno, union board member Christos Christodoulou on Tuesday said: “There have long been safety issues and they are on the rise, preventing nurses from carrying out their duties”.
The union representative said the most recent incident in Limassol was added proof of a lack of basic safety levels, noting similar events had also occurred in Polis and Paphos.
“It is not just a question of getting more special constables assigned to the hospitals. It is making people accountable for their actions. As things are now, no one is arrested or fined,” Christodoulou said.
He also noted that six months after a violent ambulance attack in Polis, security doors had yet to be fitted to the vehicles, with the state citing financial constraints.
Christodoulou said that until now, the incidents had mainly caused damage rather than injury but said nurses were concerned it was only a matter of time before someone was seriously hurt.
“It’s not just nurses, other hospital staff are put in danger, patients are too,” he said, adding: “Do we have to mourn someone’s death before something is done?”
Police Spokesman Andreas Angelides had earlier confirmed that the actions of four constables – who were on duty at Limassol General Hospital on the same night that a drunken patient ran amok in the Emergency Room – will be looked into.
Pasyno Secretary General Panayiotis Georgiou was arrested and detained on charges he insulted an officer, while trying to find out more about the incident involving the unruly patient.
Angelides said an officer from the Polemidia station had been discussing the incident with nurses and hospital administrators, a few hours after the incident.
It was during that discussion that, according to Angelides, Georgiou had an exchange of words with the visiting police officer.
Georgiou, who had also gone to the hospital to see what had happened, was then arrested for insulting a police officer and causing public commotion.
The drunken patient, described as a 28-year-old man, was brought into the Emergency Room at Limassol General around 5am on Monday and started a public commotion, according to police.
Media reports said the man was throwing items on the floor and he was finally subdued by a nurse on duty.
A hospital security guard was also called to the scene.
Special constables in charge of security at state hospitals work according to the duties laid out a particular memorandum of understanding signed for the purpose, a police source confirmed on Tuesday.
“In Limassol, security is undertaken in cooperation with Polemidhia Police Station,” the source told the Cyprus Weekly, adding that 15 special constables had been assigned to the town’s general hospital and cooperated with the hospital’s management to provide 24-hour cover, 365 days a year.
He was not able to provide figures on the special constables assigned to state hospitals in other towns.