Doctors declare industrial dispute over consultant’s removal from COVID response team

The Medical Association of Malta gives notice of an industrial dispute, requests urgent meeting with Health Minister, following consultant’s removal from COVID response team

The doctors’ union has declared an industrial dispute following the removal of a consultant from the COVID response team.

The Medical Association of Malta has asked Health Minister Chris Fearne for an urgent meeting ahead of planned industrial action that is to start on Thursday. The union warned that industrial action will escalate from Monday.

The controversy revolves around the removal of public health consultant Kenneth Grech from the COVID response team that happened over the weekend.

Grech had given advice for schools to postpone their physical reopening given a post-Christmas surge in COVID-19 infections.
The advice, dismissed by government, led to a two-day strike by the Malta Union of Teachers last week.

Grech was subsequently transferred out of the response team and back to his previous role working on the national health strategy. The ministry yesterday insisted this was needed so as not to lose EU funds and denied Grech’s redeployment was in any way linked to the school strike.

However, MAM has insisted otherwise.

“The transfer of a public health consultant for expressing his professional judgement is unacceptable. Doctors must be free to express their professional opinion without intimidation or fear of retribution,” the union said in its letter to the health permanent secretary yesterday night.

“It is the ethical duty of each doctor to give the best possible medical advice. The removal of this consultant is of concern to all professionals in all grades,” MAM said, giving notice of industrial action.