'Crucial meeting' today - 19/9/2006

link to The Times

Health centres

'Crucial meeting' today

A "crucial meeting" today should determine whether government health centre doctors are given directives to limit their service, Medical Association of Malta general secretary Martin Balzan said yesterday. Last week the association declared an industrial dispute over the health centres, a move that was said to have surprised health authorities since a meeting between the association and the authorities was scheduled for today.

Contacted yesterday, Dr Balzan said the directives were on hold until today's meeting, adding that if the association decided to go ahead with them they would be aimed at limiting those services of a non-emergency nature.

The issue revolves around three proposals made by the MAM to the government which are intended to improve the service at health centres. These are to prioritise patients according to their needs, to have a system of continuity of care for non-urgent cases and to improve the record-keeping system.

Dr Balzan said the proposals would make the best use of the existing resources - the MAM believes that health centres are plagued by doctor shortages.

"We need to focus mostly on the most deserving cases," he said.

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