The health sector in Malta is not in a position to support any influx of patients from any country to Mater Dei Hospital, the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses said this morning.

In a statement referring to a possible influx of patients from Libya the union said the government had to keep in mind the welfare of the nation and should not take decisions just to please the international community.

It would be highly inappropriate to offer health care services to foreign patients in Malta when there were problems of Maltese patients left on stretchers due to bed unavailability, for example.

Other problems included patients being nursed in hospital corridors where no toilet and hand washing facilities existed, a shortage of nurses, overcrowding, huge waiting lists, a lack of adequate community nursing care, insufficient beds in intensive care and wards, out of stock drugs and equipment, only one hospital for the whole population.

MUMN said it believed that bigger countries with more facilities should address such problems.

Countries such as the United States had huge hospital ships which could take up more than 900 patients and were better equipped than Mater Dei Hospital.

The Maltese population and the nurses were already making huge sacrifices due to short falls which occurred in the planning of Mater Dei.

In the two years it has been operating, three corridor areas which should have never taken in patients were opened.

Patients were being nursed in these areas against all principles of aseptic techniques, against all principles of infection control, against all principles of nursing practices and where the dignity and the privacy of the patients in such areas did not exists.

MUMN said it would not allow additional beds to be placed in the existing Mater Dei/SVPR wards which did not have adequate nurse staffing levels.

The union said it had never been consulted in any way on the government's intentions or the contingency plans (if they existed) which were to be implemented in case of a huge influx of patients arriving at Malta.

MUMN noted that there were currently loads of rumours at Mater Dei and areas not equipped to hold patients were being cleared.

MUMN said it would support nurses who refused to nurse patients in corridors making nursing an impossible task.

"This statement is being issued in the light that certain Maltese politicians tend to see foreign affairs as being more important for their own personal interest and therefore would not be capable to expose the huge limitations which the health sector in Malta is passing through at the detriment of all Maltese who need such an essential service," it said.

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