Nurses and midwives who were not trained in the EU have, for almost a year, not been allowed to work in Malta despite staff shortages reports, the Times of Malta has learnt.

In a bid to address the situation, the government said last night a legal notice enabling the Nursing and Midwifery Council to accept new applications from non-EU nurses to do an adaptation programme was expected “soon”. A call for expressions of interest to engage mentors for the programme had been compiled and would be issued in the coming days, a Health Ministry spokeswoman said.

According to a notice posted on the Health Ministry’s website, the Nursing and Midwifery Council is not “in a position to accept applications for registration” from candidates not trained in the EU.

This was pending the revision of the registration process. Nurses and midwives were told to contact the council for an update by e-mail in “mid-February” 2018.

“The Labour government has left no stone unturned to make good for the accumulating problem of nurses’ shortages over the years under the Nationalist administrations. Just a few days ago, more than 100 new nurses were enrolled in the public service,” she said.

Though the notice spoke of applicants who received their training outside the EU, the legal notice mentioned by the ministry spokeswoman referred to non-EU nurses. It could not be immediately clarified last night what the different wording actually implied.

Sources close to the public health sector said nothing had happened since February, despite nurses and midwives trained outside the EU not having been registered since November 2017.

A number of the applicants were now working as carers instead of nurses or midwives, the sources noted. The applicants, they continued, often only learnt of the situation after already taking up residence on the island.

The nurses’ union has long been calling for the shortages to be addressed. The Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses even accused the government of not being sensitive to the situation.

Ahead of wide-ranging sectoral industrial action in July, MUMN general secretary Colin Galea said the health sector in Malta lacked about 550 nurses. This meant, he pointed out, that at Mount Carmel Hospital there were not enough nurses to keep a constant watch, at times resulting in patients escaping.

In an attempt to address the issue, the government last year called on retired nurses to apply for positions in State hospitals.


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