The nurses’ union is threatening to order members not to leave the ambulance when faced with threatening situations unless the police were present.

Earlier this week, the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses called on the Home Affairs Ministry to better protect nurses responding to emergency calls outside hospitals and health centres.

Nurses were constantly facing harassment during work shifts

The union complained it took the police 40 minutes to go to a nurse’s aid when she was threatened by a group of men in Marsa, some of whom were drunk. The nurse was attending to victims involved in a bicycle accident.

Union secretary general Colin Galea told this paper that if no response to the MUMN’s request for nurses to be better protected was received from the Home Affairs Ministry by Sunday, directives would come into force the following day.

READ: Police say they are investigating why it took them so long to help

He said nurses would be instructed to only get out of an ambulance in a threatening situation if the police were already present. Mr Galea said nurses would also be told to return to the ambulance if they felt threatened.

The directive, he noted, would apply to all nurses accompanying ambulances despatched from Mater Dei Hospital, health centres and Gozo General Hospital.

The police internal affairs unit is looking into the MUMN’s report about the slow response time.

The union has complained that nurses were constantly facing harassment during work shifts, most notably when they received calls from problematic areas like Paceville.

Nurses' calls for better protection have been backed by cycling lobbyists, who however argued that police officers also needed greater legal protection. 

"We keep asking for more enforcement, but forget that the men and women of our police force place themselves at risk of retaliation every time they step in to correct someone," the Bicycling Advocacy Group said. 

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