Doctors working in the accident and emergency units of state hospitals will stage a 24 hour strike from 7 am on Tuesday to protest staffing shortages.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou expressed regret at the decision and said that the issue was a complex one that needed time to be resolved.
The minister, who had held meetings with doctors in search for a solution, said its was regrettable that the measures suggested and adopted by the ministry had been found to be inadequate by the union.
In an announcement earlier on Monday, the state doctors’ union Pasyki said that the shortage of staff at the A&E units was putting the lives of patients and of personnel at risk. The union said that doctors have been working without a break for months.
The union said that work has increased over the weekends following the implementation of the general health system (GHS) as private doctors do not have an obligation to be on call over the weekends.
As a result, the already understaffed accident and emergency units are having to deal with even more patients, they said.
“The Health Ministry has been warned for years that doctors would leave public hospitals, but unfortunately took action too late and only after the dynamic measures were announced,” the union said.
A&E units will operate with safety staff tomorrow to handle emergency cases, the Health Ministry said adding that the public is urged at all times to consult their personal doctor and to use the A&E only for emergencies.