Doctors declare industrial dispute as COVID-19 cases surge, lambast Prime Minister’s interference in public health decisions

The Medical Association of Malta orders its members to only perform emergency duties from Monday unless government acts to curb mass events on back of COVID-19 resurgence

Doctors have been instructed by their union to only provide emergency care as of Monday in dispute over government's laissez-faire attitude on COVID-19
Doctors have been instructed by their union to only provide emergency care as of Monday in dispute over government's laissez-faire attitude on COVID-19

Doctors will only perform emergency duties from Monday after their union declared an industrial dispute with government over claims of interference in the work of public health authorities.

The Medical Association of Malta said on Wednesday it was declaring an industrial dispute as it accused the Office of the Prime Minister of interfering with the work of the Public Health Superintendent.

The decision comes on the back of a surge of COVID-19 cases, a cluster of which was attributable to a weekend-long hotel party.

MAM said that against scientific advice, the public health emergency was ended and all public health measures have been repealed or reduced to unenforceable guidelines.

It pointed its finger at Prime Minister Robert Abela for encouraging people not to comply with public health recommendations, particularly through the organisation of a government concert and the holding of a mass political activity where no social distancing and no masks were evident.

The doctors’ union also hit out at the Malta Tourism Authority and Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli for promoting mass activities, which it said “create grave danger of a major uncontrollable epidemic”.

MAM demands that as from Monday, all permits for mass events of more than 10 people be stopped with immediate effect and all approved permits withdrawn. It also wants all public health care facilities to revert to the emergency mode as had occurred between March and June.

The union said that with immediate effect all doctors in the vulnerable groups were only to work on administrative or telework duties and avoid contact with patients.

It urged all other doctors to help in work normally done by doctors in vulnerable groups and make sure that patients get all the necessary treatment.

MAM also gave notice that from Monday 3 August its members will only perform emergency duties should the situation remain unchanged.

The union said it reserved the right to lake legal action against whoever by their decisions, or omissions may lead to life-threatening situations for any of its members.

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