Barts students too much for Mater Dei to handle, medical students say

The Malta Medical Students' Association has issued a petition calling on government to ensure that no more students from Barts medical school are added to the course until the Gozo hospital is completed

Medical students at the University of Malta have said that the addition of students from Barts medical school to their clinical practice risks jeoporidising their studies.

The students were expected to have their practice rounds at the Gozo General Hospital, however a delay in the completion of the hospital has resulted in all clinical rotations being carried out at Mater Dei Hospital.

The ministry confirmed to the Times of Malta that an average of 15 to 20 students from Barts will be added to the Mater Dei rounds, with a maximum of six students assigned to each specialty.

In a petition being circulated among students, the government is being asked to commit to not adding any more students to the course until the Gozo hospital has been completed.  

The Malta Medical Students' Association (MMSA) has said that with wards already crowded, and given the limited number of consultants available to students, a further influx of trainees from Barts could put their studies at risk.

The associations president Omar Chircop was quoted saying that students were already finding it difficult to view certain procedures and that further increasing the number of students to be catered for would see students not get the necessary exposure.

The association said that while authorities seemed “willing” to make sure that there were no clashes with local students, similar assurances had been given in the pass only for them to be ignored.

The training being offered by the local university needed to be safeguarded and resources increased, the MMSA said.

Godfrey Laferla, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgrey at the University of Malta said he was aware that Barts had a strict contractual agreement with the government to provide tutors for their students and that Mater Dei would have to cater for these students.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Laferla pointed out that Barts operated “a very right and strict tutor-to-student ratio” and that this created an “unfavourable” situation for local medical students since “first preference is being given to the parties of the contractual agreement”.

Back in 2014, the MMSA had voiced similar concerns that the addition of a new medical school would “directly affect their daily learning experience, which may already be compromised by the increasing number of students” entering the medical course.

Barts will be lending prestige to the consortium that has clinched a €200 million privatisation deal for the Gozo, St Luke’s and Karen Grech hospitals, which is itself banking on attracting medical tourists to the Maltese islands.