Phlebotomists are set to benefit from more allowances and a course that will enable career progression after their union and the government signed a sectoral agreement following months of directives.

The agreement was reached following over eight months of directives restricting blood drawing at Mater Dei Hospital.

The Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) and the government locked horns over their requests for courses aimed at helping the phlebotomists further their studies, enabling them to advance in their careers and in turn, have their salaries increase. They had also asked for extra allowances.

The dispute over these requests led to prolonged industrial action at the hospital, affecting thousands of patients.

The situation had irritated doctors, who were forced to carry out those tasks themselves to ensure patients were treated properly. 

Health Minister Chris Fearne announced on Twitter that the sectoral agreement had been signed, adding that “it is good that we always prioritise patients’ interests”.

Phlebotomists are healthcare professionals who draw patients' blood. They were ordered to limit the number of patients they were allowed to see every day, resulting in patients, including many elderly people, being turned away daily.

Patients were queueing from dawn to get their appointments, with tensions flaring in the queue evident in footage of the outpatient department seen by Times of Malta. 

The issue was also a headache for doctors awaiting patients' results, with many often warning their patients they might have to reschedule appointments because they have yet to have their blood drawn for further tests.

The directives were lifted in May after the government put forward a proposal that was acceptable to the union.

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