Health Minister goes undercover at hospital A&E

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Health Minister Michael Hadjipantelas paid a surprise visit to Nicosia General Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department to get a first-hand picture of conditions after patient organisations complained about waiting times.

According to reports, Hadjipantelas said that he had noted problematic issues and pledged to have them resolved as soon as possible.

The Health Minister instructed the State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY) to resolve problems within two weeks.

Incognito, the minister chatted with patients waiting to be examined at the A&E; some had been waiting for hours.

Patients also told Hadjipantelas that they have to wait for hours to get the results of blood and other tests carried out while they are in the A&E.

Medical staff said specialist doctors on call are late in responding to their colleagues at the department and delay in the movement of ambulances.

Patients are also held in A&E for hours, waiting for a bed in a ward.

In comments to the website Philenews, the chair of the Patients Association, Marios Kouloumas, said he has long requested a meeting with stakeholders to discuss the problems.

“Patients have no other option than to go to state hospitals since the General Health System has not included the respective departments of private hospitals and the rest of the health structure do not operate during non-working hours, weekends and holidays.

“There was such a plan drawn up by the Health Insurance Organisation some two years ago, but unfortunately, it has so far remained on paper,” said Kouloumas.

Problems were acknowledged by OKYPY, with its spokesperson Charalampos Charilaou admitting to Philenews there is a serious issue with congestion during the weekends.

“There is indeed an issue, which we have raised many times with the HIO. However, a solution must be found.

“On-call clinics must be set up, and this is something that falls within the remit of the HIO.

“Only if these clinics are open for citizens who face non-urgent health problems will A&Es truly be decongested,” said Charilaou.

The HIO in August launched the operation of emergency clinics during weekends.

HIO’s 2019 plan was to have emergency clinics working 24 hours a day, which was abandoned.