Gozo General Hospital to be hit by doctor shortage once again

The shortage would mainly be affecting the hospital’s medicine department, which deals with roughly three quarters of all patients walking into the hospital

Patients at the Gozo General Hospital are expected to experience delays as from today due to a shortage of medical consultants, MaltaToday is informed.

Last April, following the transfer of a concession for the running of three of Malta’s hospitals from Vitals Global Healthcare to Steward Health Care, an agreement was signed between the government and the Medical Association of Malta (MAM) for recruitment at the three hospitals to remain the government’s responsibility.

The government said in May, that a process of staff recruitment at the hospital had been initiated and that in the meantime, medical consultants engaged at Mater Dei Hospital would be performing their duties in Gozo on a roster basis.

Industry sources who spoke to MaltaToday said, however, that no doctors had been recruited thus far, and that the agreement that was seeing Mater Dei consultants working in Gozo will be coming to an end today.

They said that over the last months, the number of doctors working in Gozo had continued to decrease, leaving the hospital in a situation where it cannot operate effectively without new recruits or consultants from Mater Dei.

“The arrangement was meant to be a temporary measure in place until more doctors are recruited by the government, but so far this has not happened, and with the agreement coming to an end tomorrow, it is unclear how the hospital will get by,” the sources said.

They added that currently, roughly one third of the doctors working at the hospital were from Mater Dei.

The shortage, the sources said, would mainly be affecting the hospital’s medicine department, which deals with roughly three quarters of all patients walking into the hospital.

Replying to questions from MaltaToday, Steward Health Care acknowledged that the current situation meant it was struggling to meet the hospital’s demands.

“We are hoping for the situation to be rectified as quickly as possible through the public selection and appointment process,” a spokesperson said.

“We are doing everything in our power to adjust work schedules to ensure patients suffer as little disruptions as possible.”

Steward Health Care said it would also “consider employment options”, in order to continue being able to offer the high standard of care it feels it owes its patients.

When contacted, a spokesperson for the health ministry said that over the past few weeks, a number of consultant posts had been issued for Gozo General Hospital. These posts include consultants in cardiology, neurology, emergency medicine, microbiology/bacteriology, general medicine, baromedicine and paediatrics.

“Besides these consultants posts other specialist posts were issued for Gozo General Hospital. These include the posts of resident specialist in general/internal medicine, anaesthesia and intensive care, as well as in emergency medicine,” said the spokesperson.

“The selection process for these posts is at an advanced stage. In the meantime, Steward Health Care in collaboration with the Health Department have taken the necessary measures to ensure adequate medical cover at all times to provide the best quality of care at GGH.”

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