Dozens of elective operations, including knee and hip replacements that have been on a waiting list for months, could be postponed this week if physiotherapists go ahead with plans not to offer post-operative care, The Sunday Times of Malta has learnt.

The Union Ħaddiema Magħqudin, representing the physiotherapists, has issued a warning to the top management of Mater Dei Hospital saying that ongoing industrial action would be escalated unless a dispute involving the employment of further staff is resolved.

In the notification sent to hospital, CEO Ivan Falzon last week, the union said action “would be stepped up to affect elective operations” at the start of this week if there is no solution to the dispute.

Jean Paul Gauci, who heads the union’s heath division, told The Sunday Times of Malta physios would not offer rehabilitation care and tests after patients have undergone “non-acute surgery” if the action is stepped up. This would effectively mean that operations could not be performed.

Hospital CEO Ivan Falzon said he was scrambling to find alternative ways to offer post-op care if the action goes ahead. He would not elaborate on possible solutions but insisted that whatever was done would have a negative impact on hospital efficiency.

He said he disagreed with the union’s approach and felt patients should not be affected by industrial disputes.

“Though great efforts have been made to mitigate against these directives, they impact our operations, increase resource waste and create delays in patient care. Directives of this kind within a hospital should be avoided at all costs and industrial disputes should be resolved through negotiation.”

Read more in The Sunday Times of Malta.

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