Doctors declare dispute over health centres - 16/9/2006

link to The Times

Doctors declare dispute over health centres
Cynthia Busuttil

The health authorities have expressed astonishment over the Medical Association of Malta's declaration of an industrial dispute linked to problems at health centres days before a meeting to discuss the issue is to be held on Tuesday.

The MAM has issued a statement declaring an industrial dispute with the Health Division on the conditions of work of doctors at health centres.

Contacted by The Times, Primary Health Care director Andrew Amato Gauci expressed astonishment at the MAM's statement. He explained that Tuesday's meeting has been scheduled for several weeks and the authorities had even written to the MAM telling them they would be prepared to discuss their proposals.

Association general secretary Martin Balzan said the MAM reserves the right to order any directive it deems fit to doctors at health centers as from next week.

The issue revolves around three proposals by the MAM to the government which are aimed at improving the service at health centers: 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.

Dr Balzan said that although these measures represent an improvement in the service provided, no agreement has been reached with the Health Division to date.

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