Doctors put directives on hold - appointments issue - 11/3/2005

Nurses lift action as doctors put directives on hold
Cynthia Busuttil

link to The Times article

Directives issued to nurses by the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) over two weeks ago were suspended on Wednesday following an agreement and the Medical Association of Malta (MAM) has put its directives on hold.

A statement, signed jointly by St Luke's Hospital's chief executive officer Kenneth Grech and MUMN president Rudolph Cini, said more nurses would be called in to work on an overtime basis to increase the nurses' complement in hospital wards and ensure an improvement in the care of patients.

The agreement meant the lifting of directives issued on February 21. Nurses at St Luke's Hospital, Karin Grech Hospital and the outpatient department were directed not to move from the ward, unit or operating theatre they were allocated to and nurses working in the medical and surgical wards were told not to leave their wards, not to perform chores and not to wash patients unless deemed essential.

The union and the hospital management agreed to meet again to evaluate the situation in a fortnight and to consider other solutions if the nurses' complement was still not reached.

Meanwhile, MAM general secretary Martin Balzan said the association has put directives agreed to by its council on hold but its dispute with the authorities was still an issue.

The MAM had said at the end of February that doctors at St Luke's Hospital and possibly at health centres will be ordered to take strike action. The dispute revolves around the government's decision not to give doctors their appointments despite these having achieved the required qualifications.

Contacted yesterday Dr Balzan explained that an urgent meeting had been held between MAM representatives, the Management and Personnel Office of the Office of the Prime Minister and health officials. The doctors' union was reassured during the meeting that the appointments will be made shortly while exam results will be issued soon followed by appointments for the successful students.

Dr Balzan said that although a week had passed since the meeting such appointments had not yet been made but the MAM was being repeatedly reassured they will in fact be made. He said this was a routine administrative task which was especially important in view of a threat of a brain drain affecting doctors working in the public sector.

About 150 doctors are awaiting appointments or results.

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