Nurses claim COVID crisis with 150 patients in Mater Dei Hospital

The Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses says COVID patients are being spread across all wards at Mater Dei Hospital

Mater Dei Hospital is in severe crisis, the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) said on Monday, claiming that COVID-19 patients are being spread across all wards.

In a press statement, the union said it received over 20 calls from nursing staff working at the hospital claiming that there has been a huge influx of COVID cases into Mater Dei.

"Mater Dei Hospital has more than 150 COVID patients spread in all wards, posing a high risk of cross infection among the whole hospital," the union said.

The statement comes soon after Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that government will be relaxing certain COVID-19 restrictions, including self-testing and mask-wearing among children.

The nursing shortage was made worse by the number of nurses undergoing a period of quarantine, with some wards left with two or three nurses instead of six. 

The union added that three wards are now fully dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients.

"MUMN had to issue directives during the weekend. More nurses had to be added due to the severe burnout among the nurses. Nurses are refusing to work overtime even when repeatedly requested by hospital management," it said. 

MUMN further claimed that the health ministry refuses to reduce elective surgeries to reallocate resources to the huge influx of COVID-19 cases. The union urged the ministry to reduce the number of surgeries. 

"The huge number of COVID-19 cases in all wards has reached an extent to which every ward in Mater Dei Hospital is experiencing COVID-19 cases."

"If the health ministry refuses to reduce elective surgery, the risks of transmission increases both for staff and patients. Mater Dei Hospital has six designated areas which are not meant to be wards but are being used as wards."

These areas include the hospital corridors, library and staff canteen. "All areas make it harder for the nurses to work with patients since these are not set up as a ward should be."

No to self-testing

Earlier on Monday Chris Fearne announced that it will introduce self-testing for COVID-19. 

However, MUMN said that it disapproves of the new measure. It said that self-testing was not effective in other countries like the UK because some people were able to fake their test result.

"We should be learning from the mistakes of others, not repeating them," the union said.

Fearne also announced that those travelling to Malta from a county on the red list will now be allowed into the country with a negative PCR test or recovery certificate.

Meanwhile children will no longer need to wear a mask in school as from 13 April. A second booster will be offered to vulnerable groups.

READ: COVID self-testing to be allowed from this week, masks to be removed in schools from 13 April