A young Maltese emergency doctor has publicly urged nurses to “stand up and be counted” after their union ordered industrial action following a dispute involving the triaging of patients at healthcare centres.
“Mr Paul Pace (head of the nursing union, MUMN) believes that after reading for a Nursing Degree at University, you are not qualified enough to ask a set of basic questions in English and check a patient’s temperature,” Luke Zammit wrote on Facebook.
“He should be marketing nursing within the health service for what it is: crucial and essential. Instead, he repeatedly creates situations in which the system makes do without the nurse. What a pity.”
“For the sake of the nursing profession in Malta, and the patients (both present and future) stand up to be counted and show him what being a professional means.”
“Churchill is quoted to have said that ‘the price of greatness is responsibility.’ Be proud of what you do. Be responsible. Be great.”
Zammit spoke out after the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) issued directives to healthcare centre nurses following a decision by the health authorities to shift responsibility for triaging from doctors to reception personnel.
Triaging involves asking patients a series of basic questions to assess whether they have COVID-19 symptoms and therefore whether to allow them to congregate with other patients. It also involves taking the temperature of patients.
Doctors have been doing this work until recently when the health authorities decided to shift the load so as to free up doctors’ time.
MUMN president Paul Pace responded by issuing directives, instructing nurses not to carry out bloodletting and all non-essential services, arguing that triaging should only be carried out by qualified medical personnel.
Cover photo: Left: Luke Zammit, Right: Paul Pace
What do you make of the MUMN’s industrial action?