The nurses’ union on Sunday proposed that nurses with children 12 years and younger should be given the opportunity to choose a relative to care for their children while they are at work.

For this purpose, they said in an open letter to the Prime Minister, these relatives should be given two months’ paid vacation leave.

They also proposed that overtime worked by nurses during these times should not be taxed. They said it was useless for the government to increase beds in hospitals if there were no nurses to attend to the patients using them. 

It pointed out that there were nurses who were raising children and currently utilising their vacation leave so could not attend work.

Although the union was aware that childcare facilities had been provided for children aged between three and 12 years during the day, these only addressed a small percentage of the 38% of the nursing workforce raising children. 

Nurses with babies and small children, as well as those who worked night shifts, did not benefit from such facilities. 

Nurses were also apprehensive and worried about the situation and not so eager to take their children to a childcare centre. They needed to have their minds at rest if they were to attend to the patients in all hospitals of Malta and Gozo.

Before the outbreak of the coronavirus, the health sector was already 400 nurses short and the current situation increased the demand for nurses.

Drastic measures had to be taken in such desperate times, the union said.

It pointed out that the nursing profession was the only profession caring for patients 24 hours a day seven days a week and the demands and the sheer scale of work ahead was something that none had ever experienced.

All countries affected by the coronavirus had appealed for the nursing workforce to be protected by adequate personal protective equipment and other incentives.

Statistics showed that in affected countries, 8% of the nursing workforce contacted the virus during their line of duty, the MUMN said.

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