MAM steps up pressure over doctors' conditions at Mater Dei - 29/5/2007

link to The Times

MAM steps up pressure over doctors' conditions at Mater Dei
The Medical Association of Malta has been authorised by its members to direct doctors not to migrate to Mater Dei Hospital if agreement is not reached on their working conditions at the new hospital.

Contacted late last night when a meeting of the association was still going on, MAM general secretary Martin Balzan said he did not expect an agreement in the immediate days even though there is a meeting with the authorities scheduled for this week.

Dr Balzan said doctors would be subjected to new working conditions at Mater Dei, and these should be agreed upon before the move took place. Otherwise, the association could direct doctors to continue reporting for work at St Luke's Hospital.

"Discussions are ongoing and we are optimistic. We think we will reach an agreement, but the government needs to conclude the discussions," he said. MAM yesterday held a meeting with doctors to inform them about the ongoing discussions with the government and also to demonstrate that doctors support the association's position. Two months ago, MAM expressed concern that the hospital, due to be inaugurated in just over a month's time, would not start operating according to schedule if discussions are not successful. Doctors had authorised the association to take measures to ensure that talks on working conditions are concluded before medical staff are deployed to Mater Dei.

Dr Balzan said the association had already made a number of proposals based on the system followed in the UK. These revolved around working conditions, the need for structured training and career progression. "We need to maximise our resources," he said. He stressed that a number of doctors who were being trained in here were leaving the country for consultant posts in the UK. This was apparent in the anaesthesia department, where most doctors had left the island.

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