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Nursing shortages leaving hospitals ‘on autopilot’

Casualty department nurses have threatened to limit what they consider a ‘safe’ number of patients per shift unless more staff is brought in.

They complain the recent Cabinet-approved hiring of another 56 professionals will only go part of the way to improve their difficult working conditions as an extra 120 were needed.

The nurses, according to PASYNO union press officer Theodoros Petelis, remain exhausted, overburdened with duties beyond their usual scope, and too few in number.

They are considering determining a ‘safe’ number of patients for them to attend to within a shift and refusing to see any more after this number has been reached, Petelis told Active Radio on Wednesday.

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He did not reveal when a decision on the matter would be made, saying it would constitute preventative action to protect both the nurses and their patients.

According to PASYNO’s figures, 75 nurses are employed at Nicosia General Hospital’s casualty department while there should be 105.

In Limassol, there are 58 on staff while the nurses say at least 77 are needed.

When it comes to Larnaca, 46 nurses are doing the job of 74, the nurses complain.

Petelis did not say how many were working at Paphos’ casualty department but said 26 more nurses would be needed for it to operate as it should.

In the Famagusta district, there are 26 nurses employed at the casualty department when there should be 38 he added.

All this, Petelis said, added up to a 124-nurse shortage, adding casualty departments were currently operating on ‘autopilot’.

While welcoming the Cabinet’s recent decision to replace 56 of the nurses on long-term sick or maternity leave with substitutes, Petelis pointed out that 159 people were actually currently away for these reasons.

He also complained a number of nurses had been transferred out of the casualty department and to new ambulance stations after it was determined the number originally planned to man the stations was inadequate.


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