Updated at 11.40am  

Care workers, nursing aides and health assistants working in public hospitals and residential care facilities have been reminded by their union to only attend to patients if accompanied by a colleague.

The General Workers Union said on Sunday that it had issued directives to its members in the healthcare sector after receiving reports that some had been the victims of “unfounded allegations”.

A union spokesman said that it was going public with its industrial action after attempts to resolve the matter discreetly had failed. 

“We cannot allow our members to be put in a compromising situation in which they cannot defend themselves,” said GWU public sector secretary Jeremy Camilleri.

Mr Camilleri told Times of Malta that the directives have been in place for some four weeks, after an allegation by a patient “was the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

“As the name implies, nursing aides should be assisting nurses, however, for the 18 months, supervision by nurses was lacking. When, for example, patients allege that nursing aides are rough with them, there are no witnesses to prove otherwise.”

The GWU has other related directives in place - nursing aides and care workers have for some time refused to bathe patients on their own. The new directives extended this order, meaning that now they will not carry out any of their roles if they are unaccompanied by another staff member, Mr Camilleri explained.

The directives affect nursing aides, health assistants, care workers, assistant care workers and other such employees.

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