Nurses concerned by authorities’ ‘overconfidence’ in Ebola preparedness

Nurses’ union says Health Division must step up its efforts and provide stricter training

Maltese nurses and midwives are concerned by the “overconfidence” expressed by the Health Division over the hospitals’ preparedness to tackle suspected cases of Ebola.

In a notice issued to all nurses and midwives by their union, MUMN said the Health Division should concentrate on stepping up its efforts and purchase better protective equipment for nurses while providing stricter training to nurses “who feel confident in dealing” with such cases.

The nurses argued that Maltese authorities should not be overconfident in the precautionary actions being implemented, pointing out that a second Dallas hospital worker has contracted the disease while treating a patient.

“With all the best equipment in the USA, two nurses have tested positive to the disease,” the nurses said.

MUMN said that haemorrhagic diseases such as Ebola were already challenging to expert nurses. It also said that local plans “to control contacts in the community are still far from adequate”.

As staff members continue to be trained to deal with any possible Ebola case, a decontamination tent that was set up on Tuesday outside the Emergency Department collapsed just a few hours later.

The MUMN said that “extreme precautions and planning” were not being put forward.

“What has been done and what is being done is still not enough. MUMN cannot afford to allow the safety of nurses evolve in some political ball game by trying to achieve ‘votes’ by some overconfident press statement as has been recently issued by the Health Division.”

MUMN said it appeared to be more aware of the risks of treating Ebola patients than the Health Division.

“We do not want to cause alarm but more should be done. Better protective equipment should be purchased as Ebola is by far one of the most challenging diseases to contain. MUMN is stressing that highly protective equipment such as special gowns; hoods and respirators should be available in the infectious disease unit, to the police force and to public healthcare centres in Malta and Gozo.”

According to the nurses, not even liquid soap for basic hand washing was available for nurses and midwives”.

“This is not acceptable for us. Unfortunately, the hospital’s management appears to be more concerned by other priorities,” MUMN said, urging the Health Division to step up its efforts and purchase better protective equipment and provide stricter training to nurses.

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