Press release on IV treatment
MAM CANNOT GUARNATEE THE CONTIBUED SAFE DELIVERY OF EMERGENCY SERVICES AT ST. LUKE’S HOSPITAL
The Medical Association of Malta would like to highlight the present situation at St. Luke’s Hospital as a result of directives that have issued by the MUMN. Because of the overcrowding problem, nurses have been directed by their union not to give intravenous medication to patients at St. Luke’s Hospital. This duty has been carried out routinely by nurses for a number of years, and for which nurses have received specific training. Whilst MAM does not wish to enter into the merits or otherwise of the dispute itself, it strongly feels that emergency services should be provided for even during industrial actions. The delivery of intravenous medication to acutely ill patients being treated in hospital cannot be interrupted or postponed without detriment to the patient.
As healthcare professions have, or should have, ethical obligations to patient care, doctors are presently diving intravenous treatment themselves. However this is meaning that the medical emergency service is being greatly strained, as doctors cannot cope with such an increased workload.
Doctors are affected by overcrowding just like any other category and it does not make sense for a group of workers to solve their problem by passing their work onto another category.
One should note that the Employment and Industrial Relations Act states clearly that, during industrial action, a specified number of nurses have to provide all necessary emergency care. For this reason, MAM is calling on the Health authorities to start enforcing the law and make sure that there is no interruption in the provision of emergency services. The Health authorities have a moral obligation to protect patients from harm whatever the cause. The present situation cannot be allowed to continue as it puts patients at risk. Doctors, already overburdened by the overcrowding problem, now also have to take on the duties of a larger number of nurses.
In this context MAM is giving notice, that unless the situation is resolved satisfactorily in the near future, it will have no option but to declare an industrial dispute and instruct its members accordingly.
Dr Martin Balzan (16 feb 2004)