Updated Thursday 11.10am

The Prime Minister is confident talks between the government and doctors will take a positive turn in the coming days.

Fielding questions from journalists on Wednesday, a day after a day-long strike on Tuesday, Dr Muscat affirmed he had confidence in Health Minister Chris Fearne and that the two sides would come to an agreement soon.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the fact that the government had offered full transparency to the Medical Association of Malta (MAM) was a positive sign and it helped both sides understand each other better.

“I believe that the concession transfer from VGH to Steward is welcome news and will lead to quicker results.

“At the end of the day, I think that MAM had every right to take such action, I won’t criticise them for that, and it is important that we return to the table to find a solution,” Dr Muscat reiterated.

READ: MAM still in the dark on hospitals’ transfer to Steward Healthcare

On the doctors’ concern that the government might, in the future, not honour a clause in the collective agreement, as they argue was the case with concession transfer this time around, Dr Muscat said that he interpreted the agreement differently.

“I think this is one of the issues that is being discussed and about which we need to find a clear solution,” Dr Muscat said.

MAM takes note of Muscat's 'conciliatory' tone

In a statement on Thursday, the MAM noted with satisfaction that the Prime Minister recognised that the union and its members had a right to follow industrial action that was ordered, and indirectly acknowledged the prudence and sense of responsibility of MAM directives.

He also clearly dissociated himself from a member of his parliamentary group (Glenn Bedingfield) who thought otherwise.

MAM also notes the more conciliatory tone set by the PM, and sincerely hopes that government will put principles before profit when considering the union's proposal presented last Wednesday.

These decisions will affect patients and doctors and health care professions for 30 years and a repeat of the VGH situation is to be avoided at all costs, it said.

The MAM council will be meeting on Thursday evening to review the state of the discussions so far, and to make preparations for its response next week in the event that the government gives a negative answer to its proposals.

Read: Privatisation of healthcare - Martin Balzan

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