Industrial action by doctors as from tomorrow in hospitals and health centres

The Malta Medical Association (MAM) and the Union for Nurses and Midwives (MUMN), have announced industrial actions in the light that mass activities have not been banned during the current pandemic. MAM has ordered a series of directives of doctors in hospital and health centres with effect from tomorrow and MUMN in hospitals and homes for the elderly that will come into effect on Friday.

The MAM directives will affect Mater Dei Hospital and the Gozo General Hospital as well as health centres as from tomorrow.

A MAM statement said the directives will postpone surgical interventions, outpatient appointments and ultrasound appointments while doctors deemed to be vulnerable have to refrain from close contact with all patients. Doctors in the Emergency Department are exempt from these directives while urgent heart surgery or interventions linked to cancer should continue to take place.

Contacted by TVM, MAM President, Dr Martin Balzan, said that if the numbers of local Covid cases continue rising there will be more European countries banning flights to Malta or imposing quarantine on those who visit Malta. He maintained that with such a high number of active cases no country is permitting mass activities and those countries having such a high number have imposed severe restrictions.

Dr Balzan said that MAM’s meeting with Health Minister Chris Fearne last Sunday had reached a basis of agreement. However, in the last hours Dr Fearne informed the Government had shifted its position and will allow mass activities. He said this is not good for the community and even less for those who work in health sectors.

In a statement issued by the MUMN after a meeting with Minister Fearne on Wednesday, it said the Government stated it will not prohibit mass activities. The MUMN said the Government has now shown serious commitment to carry out legal enforcement on mass activities. The union said it is informed that if Covid cases continue to increase over the next seven days, this will be the country’s second pandemic wave and there will be a risk of partial lockdown as happened in March.

MUMN said it has given instructions that as from Friday its member nurses are to follow industrial action directives in hospitals and homes for the elderly. These include refraining from washing patients, from helping patients to move from their beds to an armchair and vice versa as well as not accompanying patients to take x-rays or to operation theatres.

MUMN has also ordered its members not to carry out home visits. It specified that patients in emergency, in ITU, in the Renal Unit and at the Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre or in intensive care unit and giving birth units are exempt from the directives.

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