Medical students fear their studies are “in jeopardy” as Barts students will be joining their clinical practice at Mater Dei Hospital in the coming scholastic year.

The Health Ministry confirmed an “average of 15 to 20 Barts medical students will have their clinical rotation at Mater Dei Hospital”, which will be spread over different specialties.

A maximum of six students will be assigned to each speciality, a spokeswoman for the Health Ministry said.

The Malta Medical Students’ Association, however, warned this could jeopardise students’ studies, since the wards for clinical practice are already crowded.

The issue will “surely be made irreparably worse” through the additional student load at Mater Dei, the students’ organisation fears, telling the Times of Malta 16 students were too much in the current circumstances.

At present, students were already finding it difficult to view procedures in certain specialities such as obstetrics and paediatrics wards, placing their studies “at risk”.

Assurances were not met

“Even one student will tip the balance,” students told the Times of Malta. The organisation fears students will not be getting enough exposure ahead of exams.

“When authorities invest in medical education, the entire country benefits,” MMSA president elect Omar Chircop said.

The union is calling for a signed agreement that would ensure no more Barts medical students are added to the course until the Gozo facility is completed.

The students’ organisation also said, following meetings, that authorities seemed to be “willing” to work to avoid clashes with University of Malta students.

“But the reality is that we have been in the same situation before and were given assurances which were not met later on,” the organisation said, adding they have not yet seen any advantages proposed for University of Malta students.

“Rather, we have been asked to make do and accommodate these new students,” the organisation added.

“Hence, we call upon the authorities to first and foremost safeguard the education of our local University and to continue expanding and improving on our local resources and teaching, especially since some of our current resources will now be directed towards Barts too.”

A spokesman for the University of Malta confirmed that Barts clinical students will be joining the University of Malta students at Mater Dei Hospital.

The students will be performing their attachments with University of Malta third-year student groups, the spokesman said.

The spokesman, however, did not reply to questions asking whether the institution was concerned with the new student intake.

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