State doctors confident demands will be met

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State doctors in Cyprus are confident that they will not have to step up measures, following a three-hour work stoppage on Wednesday, as the Health Ministry has exhibited good will towards their demands, union PASYKI said.

PASYKI’s spokesperson Dr Lambros Samartzis told the Financial Mirror that union members and doctors in the civil servants’ union PASYDY, went ahead with a work stoppage in public hospitals and health centres between 8 and 11am.

Doctors stuck to their plans for industrial action, despite a “productive” meeting with Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas the previous night.

Dr Samartzis said that the reason for sticking to their decision was the indifference shown by the State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY) to resolve problems and address demands put forward by state doctors.

Asked, PASYKI’s spokesperson said that OKYPY has not only been indifferent to their demands, but has also violated contractual agreements between the two sides.

Samartzis said that their demands have to do with the way the service is organised, “starting from the schedule, the number of doctors to be hired, the promotion scale, how many beds hospitals and clinics should have”.

He added that “OKYPY has violated agreements we had made regarding our compensation and overtime allowances”.


Expand working hours

Doctors and OKYPY do not see eye to eye when it comes to the organisation’s plans to expand hospital’s working hours to include afternoons.

“They have avoided discussing the issue with us. They cannot go ahead with expanding working hours, without taking into consideration doctors’ system already in place to cover shifts in wards,” said Samartzis.

The fourth thorny point for the doctors’ relationship with OKYPY has to do with the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with doctors claiming that the organisation has completed ignored their suggestions.

“We have, on several occasions, tabled suggestions which would keep the hospitals up and running without having to postpone surgeries or close departments to make room for the rising numbers of COVID patients. However, OKYPY chose to completely ignore us,” said Samartzis.

The state doctors’ representative said that operations cancelled because of the three-hour strike, were “a drop in the ocean, compared to the number of surgeries that were needlessly postponed during the pandemic”.

PASYKI’s spokesperson said that the union is confident that issues will be resolved through cooperation and dialogue with the health ministry.

“We have agreed to form subcommittees with the ministry, which will be looking into each aspect of our demands, aiming to find mutual ground. What is encouraging, is that we have seen that the ministry is willing to look into our demands and come to a common understanding,” said Samartzis.

Wednesday’s strike was backed by the Cyprus Medical Association (CyMA) and state nurses’ union PASYNO, but not by the federation of patients’ associations (OSAK), that publicly stated its disagreement arguing that the decision to strike punishes patients.