Nurses at Mount Carmel Hospital have given the authorities an ultimatum to address “serious health and safety risks”, warning of industrial action unless the situation improves drastically.
The Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses gave the health authorities until tomorrow to address the situation.
In a letter to Joseph Rapa, the permanent secretary at the Health Ministry, the union said nurses felt they were being treated as “second- and third-class nurses”, adding even patients faced “inhumane conditions”.
“MUMN is very disappointed that the situation at Mount Carmel Hospital is no longer acceptable in this day and age.
A number of wards are closed because they cannot be certified as safe, and patients have been transferred, creating overcrowding in the safe parts
“Although several meetings have been held between the management and the union, certain issues have not been resolved,” it told Mr Rapa.
The union listed the issues it was referring to, including missing procedures on health and safety.
Sources close to the mental health hospital said most of the wards had been condemned by architects and could not be used to accommodate patients. As a short-term measure, scaffolding was used to support parts of the ceiling that were falling.
In the more sensitive areas, architects instructed workmen to install metal support jacks to hold old beams in place.
The sources said a number of wards were closed because they could not be certified as safe and patients were transferred elsewhere, resulting in overcrowding in the parts of the hospital considered safe.
There were about 40 beds in one ward and 38 in another, though they were designed to take a maximum of 30 patients, they noted.
Some patients ended up sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the hospital corridor, the sources added. The nurses’ union has asked for the ceiling in most of Mount Carmel’s wards to be repaired. They said even the lift needed attention.
“If these issues are not resolved, MUMN will be registering an industrial dispute with the Health Department, followed by industrial action,” the nurses’ union warned in its letter.
The building, in Attard, was completed in 1861, when patients were transferred there from the previous mental hospital, Villa Franconi in Floriana.