Friday 30 July 2021

Steward Health Care Malta offered solution to Health Ministry yesterday to resolve Gozo General Hospital impasse

Following a communication that took place yesterday afternoon between Steward Health Care Malta and the Health Ministry on the situation concerning the industrial action ordered by the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) at the Gozo General Hospital (GGH), Steward has reiterated its request to the Health Ministry to release nurses from the Gozo transfer list of nurses so that they can be deployed in the GGH to resolve the current impasse in the interest of all stakeholders, most importantly the patients and staff of the hospital.

Steward categorically denies the claims made by the union that it never wanted to deploy Gozitan nurses working in Malta. Since March this year, Steward has been requesting repeatedly for the release of Gozitan nurses employed in Malta. To date, Steward has not received any communication from the Health Ministry to confirm that Gozitan nurses could be released to work at GGH. 

As part of its proposals to the Health Ministry, Steward yesterday said it would consider withdrawing all legal proceedings in relation to the injunction immediately, subject to an agreement being reached with the Ministry for Health and MUMN.

In a letter sent yesterday to the Health Ministry, Steward Health Care Malta said that in the context of the current discussions, the interests of its patients remains Steward’s sole focus. The letter added that at the heart of the dispute is the adequate staffing to maintain full COVID-19 capabilities mandated by government and safety of patients and staff. 

Steward said in the letter that MUMN’s position, which came as a complete surprise, jeopardizes those goals without any workable or constructive solutions being proposed. 

In the best interests of its patients, Steward is reserving its right to take further legal action against MUMN in relation to the directives announced yesterday by the union, as a reaction to the prohibitory injunction obtained in Steward’s favour last Sunday 14th June 2020. Such directives, have clearly been issued in an attempt to circumvent the Court order, and are seriously impacting several healthcare services on the island of Gozo, which Steward is both legally and morally obliged to provide.

Steward offered the Health Ministry a proposal so as to resolve this matter amicably between all parties concerned. In fact, Steward said in the letter that it is willing to consider withdrawing all proceedings in relation to the injunction immediately, subject to an agreement being reached with the Ministry for Health and MUMN based on the following requirements:

1. Ministry to release 10 nurses from the Gozo list, being the equivalent number of third country nurses Steward had to engage, in agreement with Ministry and Union, to make up the necessary staffing levels.

2. The 10 nurses referred to would be over and above the 8 nurses currently earmarked for replacement purposes.

3. In the interim, the current Third Country National (TCNs) already recruited by Steward shall remain at Gozo General Hospital until the 18 nurses referred to above have been released to GGH. Thereafter, said TCNs will be transferred to Karin Grech Rehabilitation Hospital.

4. MUMN withdraws all directives with immediate effect. 

Steward believes that this proposal made yesterday to the Health Ministry should be acceptable to both Ministry and MUMN and is looking forward to a positive reply so that the matter can be resolved in the best interests of the its patients and the Gozitan community that it serves.

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