Additional anaesthetic nurses are to be deployed at Mater Dei Hospital’s main operating theatres, following a meeting about union directives called over staff shortages.

Last week, nurses at Mater Dei’s main operating theatre were instructed by the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) not to participate in medical interventions in cases of shortages.

The directives applied to some 190 scrub and anaesthetic nurses, deputy charge, charge and practice nurses. As a consequence, some operations were postponed and two theatres remained closed on Monday.

Ten days from when the directives kicked in, the union met the management and both agreed that when it comes to health and safety issues, there were no halfway measures, MUMN general secretary Colin Galea said when contacted.

When it comes to health and safety issues, there were no halfway measures

Mr Galea said that according to international standards, there should be two anaesthetic nurses with every three patients (1:1.5) recovering from an operation, however, over the past years this has decreased to one nurse with three or four patients. 

The union had therefore ordered its members to work only if there were six anaesthetic nurses in the main theatre recovery area, and another four in the day-care recovery area.

However, in order to lessen the impact on patients, MUMN has now agreed to tweak this directive, and nurses will refrain from participating in medical interventions only if the 1:1.5 ratio, or, in emergency cases, 1:2 is not adhered to.

In the meantime, the union has been informed that additional anaesthetic nurses will be deployed by the end of the month.

The action comes a few weeks after the MUMN suspended nationwide directives to members following a meeting with the health authorities regarding various issues, including the sectoral agreement, early retirement, allowances and an adequate salary for some grades.

The union and the government met for eight consecutive days and held another two-hour meeting on Thursday. Although discussions have moved forward, another meeting or two are required to conclude.

Final interview results – 18 months later

MUMN has been informed that nurses who applied to fill in one of the 120 deputy charge nurse vacancies at the various hospitals 18 months ago will be receiving the results in the coming weeks.

Last month, the union expressed concern that nurses initially received their results a year ago, however these were recalled by the Public Service Commission (PSC) when it transpired that the six examination boards had applied different criteria for the promotion.

Following a revision of criteria, results were published again in the following months. However, these too were recalled.

MUMN has now been informed that the PSC has sent the results to the Health Ministry and Parliamentary Secretariat for Active Ageing, and nurses will be receiving them in the coming days.

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