'Progress' in talks on new ward - 10/10/2006

link to The Times Editorial

'Progress' in talks on new ward
Cynthia Busuttil

"Substantial progress" has been registered in talks over the new but as yet unopened medical admissions ward at St Luke's Hospital, according to the Medical Association of Malta's general secretary Martin Balzan.

A one-hour meeting with government representatives yesterday afternoon left Dr Balzan "reasonably optimistic" that agreement can be reached in the near future.

The new ward is designed to provide an area where patients can be diagnosed and treated before either being discharged or admitted to another ward within three days.

It was supposed to have opened more than a month ago but was delayed after MAM directed doctors not to admit patients, arguing that it had not been consulted and that the ward would require additional staff when resources were already stretched.

When contacted yesterday, Dr Balzan said government representatives had presented new proposals which at first glance seemed acceptable. However, the association is insisting that consultants and staff who will be affected by the ward's opening should be consulted as well.

Hospital superintendent Frank Bartolo said when contacted that the outlook was positive.

Yesterday's meeting was considerably different from last Wednesday's, when the MAM representatives walked out after a mere 10 minutes. Dr Balzan said the MAM left the meeting because it felt the government was going back on what it had promised just days before.

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