The Malta Independent 23 August 2019, Friday

No industrial action as ministry, MUMN agree on Mount Carmel works

Julian Bonnici Thursday, 9 November 2017, 21:00 Last update: about 3 years ago

The Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses understands that the current temporary structural measures being undertaken at Mount Carmel Hospital are necessary for the long-term of safety of the 150-year-old building and will not be instituting industrial action, Health Minister Chris Fearne has told The Malta Independent following discussions with the union.

The Times of Malta reported how scaffolding and metal support jacks were being used to support parts of the ceiling at the hospital in Attard, which was completed in 1861.

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This resulted in the temporary transfer of patients to different wards around the hospital, which as the Deputy Prime Minister admitted, resulted in overcrowding. 

The union had sent a letter to the Permanent Secretary at the Health Ministry Joseph Rapa to raise their concerns over perceptions that both nurses and patients were subject to “inhumane conditions.”

However, during discussions, the Minister explained to the union that the measures implemented were purely on a short-term basis and would be solved over the coming days.

Speaking to the newsroom, Fearne said patients who do not require psychiatric care will be transferred to alternative accommodation provided by social services and private care homes in order to create more space and thusly more adequate conditions for the remaining residents.

Fearne explained that the hospital and ministry first became aware of the problem following the first rain of the summer when water begun leaking into certain wards through the roof.

“In the past, only the roof’s membrane would be repaired; however, this time, structural issues were found, and we decided to take action,” Fearne said.

“The hospital is roughly 150 years old, and has not seen any sufficient refurbishment in the last twenty years, naturally the structure was eroding, and we felt it was imperative to secure to the safety of both patients and nurses.”

“What is ironic is that, if anything, we were being proactive”

Fearne was also steadfast in assuring the newsroom that the current temporary structures in place actually made it safer than the condition it was in previously.

A firm has already been commissioned to conduct structural studies into the concerned areas and the hospital as a whole, which the minister conceded will take a couple of months, but assured that no patients will be moved back into the areas.

A project manager has also been assigned to oversee the works.

The refurbishment of Ward 2, which was already being undertaken before the transfer, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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