The Malta Independent 25 September 2022, Sunday
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When will we wake up to the stark reality?

Sunday, 11 September 2022, 09:51 Last update: about 14 days ago

This article is written by The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry Care Home Operators Business Section. Natalie Briffa Farrugia- Chairperson, Sarah Cassar, Fleur Balzan, Marie Eleanor Farrugia, and Charmain Montesin

The health industry has just gone through one of the toughest periods of all time. For over two years those working in the industry have gone from one ordeal to another, both physically and mentally, so it is no wonder that any profession in health has lost its attraction.

Whether one is in management, a medical professional, or a health employee, the last two years have taken their toll.  The excessive increase in operating costs and the reduction in potential income due to the Covid 19 restrictions (still being imposed) have been felt by most. Besides the negative financial eeffect, the long hours and burnout due to staff shortages in practically every department have led people to opt for other, less demanding, and less draining professions. And besides all this, to add insult to injury, other countries have chosen our 'English speaking' country to poach our trained staff. It is only due to the outcry lead by The Malta Chamber that one of the more overt attempts to poach our staff was stopped by government intervention earlier this month.

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It is not enough for us to acknowledge this issue, the staffing shortages we are experiencing are a matter of national concern and we cannot afford to sit idly by. We cannot afford to take for granted the staff that have remained in the caring profession, instead of acknowledging the sacrifices of the last two years. We cannot afford to snob workers coming from one college u or niversity instead of another, and we definitely cannot afford to keep make iting difficult for foreign workers in the profession to settle in Malta together with their families. As a society we must come to realise that we cannot simultaneously maintain a hostile approach to foreign workers and their families, and yet expect to go to a hospital, clinic or home for the elderly and presume to find the adequate number of nurses present.

The reality is bleak. We pride ourselves on having some of the best health and social care available worldwide, and this is undoubtedly the case, yet we may not realise that this could make our eventual decline even greater and tougher to tolerate and accept. As operators we are sounding the alarm; if we do not address the labour shortage in health and social care as a matter of urgency we are heading to an inevitable, and speedy, breaking point.

We need to be humble, and be willing to train foreign staff in the least possible time, if these do not reach the requirements upon entry. We need the process of regulating foreign nurses and carers to be more efficient, whether it is by giving more manpower to the Nnursing and Midwifery Ccouncil and Identity Malta, or reducing red tape in various departments. We need the country to welcome these people and their families, instead of putting up barriers to family reunification.

We also need to attract new generations to the profession from a young age. We must acknowledge that the pandemic has left a mark on those that have lived through it and have witnessed loss first hand. They need to recognise that their sacrifice and generosity is held in the highest regard and that all those choosing the profession in the future can be proud of doing a job that society looks up to, a job that will also give one more satisfaction than any other job ever will.

A career in health is a vocation. A career that, while exposing one to some degree of loss,  is also the profession that offers the most fulfillment, seen in the eyes of those to whom one has made a world of difference. A career in health is about saving lives and giving hope when there is none, a rewarding profession like no other. This is the message that we must embrace, and in so doing resolve ourselves to address all those issues that are jeopardising the fulfilment of those entering this career. If we truly value our health and social care workers and the service they provide, it is time to commit ourselves to alleviating the pressures that they are facing and, in the process, shore up the sustainability of this sector we all depend upon.


On Tuesday 13th September The Malta Chamber together with EY Malta will be organising the third event in its Industry Focus Series, this time dedicated to the Health Sector. The conference will include two panel discussions; the first panel will tackle matters of the workforce whilst, the second panel will tackle supply chain and logistical challenges. Register here: https://www.chamberorganizer.com/Calendar/moreinfo_responsive.php?eventid=428620&org_id=MLTA

 


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