GPs not answering the phone or appointing a substitute, long waiting times in Accident and Emergency Departments and the unimaginable suffering they are subjected to after being referred from one hospital to another are some of the branded complaints received by Patient Watch of the Federation of Cyprus Patient Associations (OSAK), during the Christmas holidays, while there are so many anonymous reports.
From the reports of the patients, it is established once again that the problems concerning public hospitals, with serious shortages in staff, beds but mainly in the organization by the competent Organizations, during the holiday season are even more intense. A fact that the chairman of the Board of Directors of OSAK, Marios Kouloumas, who, speaking to the REPORTER, stated that most patient reports concern the image in the TAEP of the hospitals and the waiting times until the doctors accept them for examination, while at the same time clarifying that the OSAK does not adopt the reports made by patients, but it is its duty to forward them to the authorities.
In addition to the various problems reported by patients at TAEPs, during the holidays, OSAK received reports of personal doctors who did not answer their phones, but did not appoint a replacement, which, as Mr. Kouloumas said, is mandatory by the law. “That is, to appoint another doctor in their place when they will be absent, while they also have to inform the patients they are attending about their absence”.
Also, from the reports it became clear that the patients, until today, do not know that the TAEP of the private hospitals that are contracted to the General Health System (GeSY) do not provide their services free of charge, with the result that they pay normally or are referred to TAEP of the public, where their real Golgotha begins. As noted by Mr. Kouloumas, “while they go to the TAEP of private hospitals, as soon as they are informed that they are not in the NHS, they are referred to the TAEP of public hospitals and there they suffer unimaginably because of the wait. Of course, this is due to the lack of information from the authorities. The reports we received, and are still receiving, are due to the chain problems observed in a general context and the fact that access to public hospitals has been limited, especially during the holidays. In other words, they operated with fewer appointments and at a slower pace”.
In total, during the holiday season, the Federation received six named complaints and dozens of anonymous ones that will never be forwarded.
They are afraid to report names
What the procedure provides for someone to proceed with a complaint to the Patient Observatory is that any report should be made by name, so that OSAK can then forward it to the competent bodies to investigate the complaints. In case the reports are anonymous, they are not accepted by OSAK, while it is possible to ensure the patient's anonymity to the competent bodies, if it is still anonymous to the Confederation.
Despite this, OSAK is concerned about the fact that patients prefer to remain anonymous instead of proceeding with named reports, as a result of which their complaints are not brought before the competent authorities. And this is because patients are afraid of suffering from the procedures, or even express concerns about retaliation.
As Mr. Kouloumas said, “the patient should have the courage to claim his rights. On the other hand, we understand the fear that patients may feel, because they are vulnerable. They think they need the doctors and may have vindictive tendencies against them. They tell us this themselves sometimes and that is sad. They believe that if it is known that they filed a complaint by name, they will be discriminated against”.
Among them, a disturbing phenomenon, was the case of a patient who, with his consent to be named in a report against a doctor, was notified to the doctor, with OSAK asking the State Health Services Organization (OKYpY), ways to which the patient will remain anonymous, so as not to deter them from proceeding with relevant reports. “If we go to these phenomena in Cyprus, then it means that everyone will be afraid. In this way, we prevent patients from reporting serious violations, which is unfortunately why we have so many anonymous reports”, said Mr. Kouloumas, clarifying once again that the reports are not adopted by OSAK.
The reports , reflect the image of public hospitals in our country during the holidays, during which the health system goes on vacation and everything works at a snail's pace, putting patients with serious health problems at risk.
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