Doctors’ warning to Abela: stop mass events or face week of industrial action

Doctors union accuses Maltese government of going against advice of Public Health Superintendence on COVID-19 

Health Minister Chris Fearne (left) with Prime Minister Robert Abela (centre) and Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci (right)
Health Minister Chris Fearne (left) with Prime Minister Robert Abela (centre) and Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci (right)

Malta’s doctors union will go ahead with industrial action unless the government agrees to new restrictions that control the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Prime Minister Robert Abela has veritable uprising on his hands after the MAM said it would issue directives to hospital staff unless controls are introduced to reverse a spike in cases. 

The MAM said it wants all mass events to be stopped immediately. 

“Malta is currently in the thick of a new epidemic caused by mass events which is leading to around 15 new cases per day amongst the local population, and has already been blacklisted by 4 EU countries. Rather than control the epidemic the government of Malta, against the advice of the superintendent of public health has decided to forge ahead with multiple mass events including those for thousands of people,” MAM president Martin Balzan said. 

“What all the other EU countries are strictly prohibiting, our authorities are doing exactly the opposite,” he said, referring to mass events in Malta that had led to a rise in COVID-19 infections such as parish feasts and club parties. 

“Very basic guidelines with many loopholes based on self-assessments have been introduced and enforcement to date has been weak. These parties carry a grave risk of a large spike in cases, especially amongst vulnerable groups posing unnecessary risks to healthcare professionals. Many  more EU countries may decide to blacklist Malta if the numbers continue to increase, further damaging the economy.” 

The MAM said it will start industrial action on Thursday, 6 August from 8am to midnight of Wednesday 12, August.

Mater Dei Hospital 

1) From Thursday 6th August, all Mater Dei outpatients appointments are postponed. This directive will remain in force for one week.  

2) All elective surgery will be postponed from Thursday 6th August. All urgent and cancer surgery is exempt from this directive.  

3) All elective ultrasound lists are postponed from Thursday 6th August. This directive will remain in force for one week. 

4) All doctors in the Accident and Emergency Department are exempt from directives  

5) All vulnerable doctors are to avoid frontline work and to report for administrative or telephone duties. 

Health Centres 

1) All 42 Community Clinics will remain closed and no General Practitioners will attend. This directive will remain in force for one week 

2) All Health Centres will set up a triage desk which will be manned by a doctor at all times.  

3) On Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th August, only the Health Centres in Mosta, Floriana, Paola and Rabat (Gozo) will open. All doctors assigned to satellite Health Centres are to report to the main Health Centres on these days.  

4) All doctors are to wear PPE in all clinical areas 

5) All diabetic and medical consultant clinic appointments will be postponed or held by telephone 

6) All vulnerable doctors are to avoid frontline work and to report for administrative or telephone duties.   

Gozo 

1) From Thursday 6th August, all Gozo General Hospital outpatients  appointments are postponed. This directive will remain in force for one week. (Doctors working in Oncology, psychiatry, geriatrics and paediatrics are exempt) 

2) All Community Clinics (bereg) will remain closed.

3) All patients will be triaged at the Rabat Health Centre. Non urgent appointments will be postponed. 

Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre (SAMOC), Mount Carmel Hospital and community psychiatry, Public Health doctors and doctors working in swabbing centres, Karen Grech Hospital, Geriatrics and Rehabilitation Medicine, Obstetric outpatients (Not gynaecology) 

Exempt from directives. MAM encourages doctors who are able to apply to work some sessions in swabbing and contact tracing in order to keep up with demand.   

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