Nurses' union critical of 'short-term measures' addressing health sector problems

The MUMN has voiced concerns over budget proposals that ignore the potential of community nurses

The Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses has called on the government to consider more long-term solutions to the problems the health sector currently faces.

The 2015 Budget proposes a weekly quota for surgery, with surgeons being told to perform more procedures at night and over the weekends.

The MUMN was critical of this move, countering that training and empowering nurses within the community was a much more efficient long-term solution.

“The increase of doctors in the primary health care settings announced by the Ministry of Finance is not in line with the practices and modules used by other European countries to enhance and improve primary care and community services,” the union said in a press statement.

“To address the shortage of beds in elderly homes and in Mater Dei Hospital, the health care service in Malta needs an efficient team work of nurses who visit the elderly in their home settings.”

This service would ensure that more elderly persons are able to remain in their homes, alleviating the strain on the already limited number of beds available and avoiding the social repercussions of being relocated to a care facility. Follow-up care can also prevent return visits to hospital by closely monitoring recovery after illness or injury for all patients, not just the elderly.

“The concept of a Family Health Nurse, which exists in the majority of the countries in Europe and worldwide, is still non-existent in Malta. This is one of the reasons why patients are being cared for in hospital corridors,” the statement reads.

The union secured EU funding so that the Health Department could be in a position to deliver such a service in Malta but, the union claims, the department chose not to take advantage of it.

“Maltese nurses were sent to Northern Ireland for training but instead of utilizing such funds and such nurses to the fullest to address a huge vacuum in the health services, the Health Department took a wrongful path which will not address the plight and suffering of the population.”

The union ended by saying that the current Budget proposal was only a short-term, wasteful measure and that in a few months, things are likely to return to their current state.

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