A photo of a group of doctors smiling while on strike has drawn the ire of Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield, who suggested their apparent joviality betrays how the strike has actually been organised to boost the Nationalist Party.
“Nowhere in the world do doctors pose for photos all smiles while patients are suffering,” Bedingfield said on Facebook. “The PN is also pleased that this strike is happening. The government has the patients’ interests first and foremost and remains willing to solve the issue that doctors have created.”
MAM wanted to strike to disrupt the best national health service in 30 years, period.
— Glenn Bedingfield (@GlenBedingfield) February 6, 2018
In another set of tweets, Bedingfield accused the Malta Medical Association (MAM) of “putting PN before patients”.
“MAM wanted to strike to disrupt the best national health service in 30 years, period,” he said.
It turns out that the doctors Bedingfield was mocking actually work at the Accident and Emergency Department – one of the few wards which isn’t on strike today.
People posted comments of support on Bedingfield’s wall, including calls on the government to replace them with foreign doctors as former Labour Prime Minister Dom Mintoff had done in a strike that lasted for years during the 1970s.
Doctors are striking to protest the secrecy surrounding the impending transfer of the St Luke’s, Gozo and Karin Grech hospitals from Vitals Global Healthcare to US healthcare giant Steward Health Care.
The MAM is demanding the government stop the impending sale to Steward and instead re-nationalise the three hospitals. However, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has insisted that private investment is necessary to upgrade the three old buildings into world-class hospitals and to keep the national health service sustainable.