Representatives of a great profession - 17/9/2006

link to The Times

Representatives of a great profession
Dr Martin Balzan, MD, FRCP, FEFIM, Gzira.

The Council of the Medical Association of Malta takes exception to the derogatory adjectives, directed at the elected representatives of the medical profession, by Professor J.A. Muscat (The Sunday Times, September 17).

Indeed, in professional circles, it is customary to criticise the song rather than to insult the singer, as the latter attitude is usually only a sad reflection of the paucity of argument.

For the benefit of Professor Muscat, who retired from active service 20 years ago and who might not be so up to date with hospital affairs, here are the facts.

The Department of Medicine has less staff on duty than required by the Industrial Relations Act, to the extent that vacation leave was about to be restricted.

Sixty per cent of doctors are leaving Malta with 10 out of 11 doing so for good - with the result that it is becoming increasingly difficult to man the emergency services.

Official figures show that there are around 80 beds in the Department of Medicine blocked by "social cases" so many patients end up treated in the corridors.

The lack of consultation has been acknowledged by the Health Division, who confirmed that the administration of the hospital was not "doctors' business".

It takes the representatives (as Professor Muscat put it) "of a great profession committed to the welfare of the sick and less advantaged members of its community" to speak up and put pressure on the authorities and constructively come up with the solutions to the current problems before it is too late for the patient.

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