'No indications' of doctors planning to leave - Health Division - 29/4/2005

link to The Times article

'No indications' of doctors planning to leave
Cynthia Busuttil

The Health Ministry has received "no indications" that a number of doctors, consultants and surgeons are planning to leave St Luke's Hospital, the ministry's spokesman said yesterday.

The ministry was reacting to a claim by the Medical Association of Malta that up to 70 per cent of doctors with basic specialist training were planning to leave the local public hospital to seek employment either abroad or in private hospitals.

"To our knowledge there is no surge in the number of doctors and consultants leaving the service," the spokesman said.

However, he said, doctors might be tempted to leave public service for better wages either abroad or in the local private sector. He said thanks to Malta's EU accession, this category of professionals, like many others, now had new opportunities. The local medical association claims that working conditions for doctors at the local hospital need to be made more attractive and that the government needs to organise and finance higher specialist training.

The ministry spokesman said the Health Division was currently discussing a new working conditions package with the association in the light of the planned health reform under discussion.

"There are a number of reasons why trained personnel could be considering leaving. The reform addresses these issues," he said.

Statistics show that seven medical staff members left the Health Division in the first three months of the year. These include one principal medical officer, a registrar and a senior house officer who left to seek alternative employment locally, and three senior registrars who went abroad.

The statistics show that 23 medical staff left last year, three of whom sought employment abroad, while 27 left in 2003. Four of the staff who left the Health Division two years ago went to work abroad.

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