One million patients seen by only 300 doctors in 2017
ONE million patients were seen by just 300 doctors in 2017, it has been claimed, leading to fears that public health services could “grind to a halt”. The startling figure was released by the head of the Cyprus Turkish Doctors’ Union (Tıp-İş) during a press conference on Tuesday to mark World Health Week and the 70th anniversary of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Ahmet Varış used new statistics, covering state hospitals and polyclinics and local health centres connected to them, to warn the government that services would reach “breaking point” unless extra staff and resources were provided.
He said doctors were rushing through examinations in just “five to six minutes” compared to what he said was the WHO recommendation of at least 20 minutes. “How can we explain that a million patients were examined at public health centres during last year, when we have a population of 300,000?” he said. Providing further details from the figures, Dr Varış said almost 220,000 “registered” patients had been seen by 149 doctors at Lefkoşa State Hospital last year, who performed just over 6,000 operations. Another 91,500 were treated in the accident and emergency department. Around 84,000 registered patients visited Gazimağusa State Hospital, where there were 47 doctors, while about 80,000 people were admitted to A&E. Some 1,700 operations were carried out the hospital.
Patient numbers were similar for Girne’s Akçiçek Hospital, which has 24 doctors and where 986 operations were performed.
The respective patient figures for the Cengiz Topel Hospital, which has only nine doctors, were roughly 38,000 and 47,000. The number of operations was 223. Seven doctors carried out nearly 20,000 examinations at the Barış Ruh Psychiatric Hospital.
Dr Varış said the number of patients seen at the emergency ward at Cengiz Topel Hospital could be higher as those admitted after 11pm were not recorded because there was no registrar present at that time. “It is against contemporary health systems to examine patients for five to six minutes each,” he commented. “We advise that such examinations are done in accordance with the [WHO] criteria.
“I cannot also help but question as to how we can maintain public health and avoid the development of illnesses and diseases in a country where the government fails to fulfil their duty of inspection.”
Dr Varış said that health services were coming under pressure because of a “constantly increasing population” and the resignations of doctors from specialist departments. Responding to the complaints, Health Minister Filiz Besim confirmed the apparent “excess” of patients being seen at hospitals, saying it was a “longstanding problem”.
She rejected claims that there were no registrars at some hospitals after 11pm, but said non-urgent cases at emergency departments were being referred to polyclinics — now open until 2.30pm — to avoid unnecessary night-time work.
Dr Besim said a new triage system would be in effect in A&E units from June 1, to determine who could safely be seen at a routine clinic.
“The situation of a patient with a cough who goes to Emergency is obviously of a less priority than someone who is having a heart attack,” she commented.
Health Minister Filiz Besim
Cyprus Turkish Doctors’ Union head Ahmet Varış