MUMN temporarily lifts Karin Grech Hospital industrial action

Nurses’ union directive, instructing members not to help move patients from their beds to armchairs, has been temporarily lifted

Karin Grech Hospital
Karin Grech Hospital

The nurses’ union has temporarily lifted industrial action it had ordered at Karin Grech Hospital which instructed its members not to assist in patient ambulation.

The directives, which had been issued by the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses and instructed members to not help with moving patients needing one-to-one care from theirs beds onto armchairs, will be temporarily lifted from Christmas Day to 28 December “as a sign of goodwill”, the union said.

The industrial action revolves around an issue concerning what nurses consider to be a shortage of carers - which are provided by Steward Health Care - at the hospital.

MUMN members were instructed to stop helping the carers move and wash patients who require supervision.

Last week, MUMN president Paul Pace had told the media that, while all sides recognised that more carers were needed, Steward and the health department could not agree on who would fund the increase in care staff.

Steward has insisted that staffing ratios at Karin Grech Hospital are adequate and in accordance with local and international standards. A spokesperson for the company had told Times of Malta that an additional 61 carers had been brought in since the public-private partnership for the running of Karin Grech had began in 2016.

On Christmas Eve, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne intervened as a mediator in the industrial dispute between Steward and MUMN. The union said Steward had agreed to send over proposals regarding the carer shortage earlier than it had intended to.

“With the intervention of the Deputy Prime Minister, the proposals which Steward Health Care had to send to  MUMN on 31 December 2019, regarding the legal implications on the nurses working in Karin Grech Hospital, will now  reach MUMN by 28 December 2019,” Pace said in a statement.

“As a sign of goodwill, during the Christmas period, the directive on ambulation of patients currently in force in KGH will be temporarily lifted from 25 December 2019 till the 28 December 2019.”