Health centre doctors decide to give talks another chance - 30/8/2006

link to The Times

Health centre doctors decide to give talks another chance
Cynthia Busuttil

The Medical Association of Malta was on the verge of issuing directives to state health centre doctors but a "well-attended" meeting last night decided to give talks another chance.

MAM general secretary Martin Balzan said health centre doctors authorised the association's council to issue directives on September 18 unless the negotiations with the authorities reaped the desired results.

Contacted late last night, Dr Balzan said the authorities sent new proposals to the MAM yesterday but although deemed as an improvement on previous ones, the association was still not satisfied.

However, he said, doctors agreed that there was room for further contacts.

The MAM has made three proposals to the government aimed at improving the service at health centres: prioritising patients attending health centres according to their needs; a system of continuity of care for non-urgent cases and improving the record-keeping system.

The association believes that a holistic change in the way health centres operated was necessary with the final aim being that of improving the quality of care and bringing it in line with international guidelines.

MAM has been in discussions with the health authorities about the issue for the past two to three months. Earlier this month Dr Balzan had said MAM was giving the government until the end of the month to make new counterproposals after which it would order industrial action following consultation with its members. He had said doctors were seeing as many as 60 patients a day, which was a mismatch between the workload and the number of doctors and something that was affecting the quality of care.

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