The Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) said in a statement that the sensitive issue that has been developing for the past year in the emergency department in Mater Dei Hospital. and the poor state of the emergency ambulance fleet being used for emergency cases is not acceptable any more.
"So far, the MUMN have remained quite patient when it comes to directives to be taken in the E/A department since MUMN is aware that such nurses provide a very essential service. Nevertheless, at this point in time, the situation has simply grown out of proportion and the ambulance fleet has deteriorated so as to become unsafe for patients and nurses working on them," MUMN President Paul Pace said.
"It is unacceptable that an ambulance that has been declared unfit for usage at midnight is then provided at 07.00h. with the same faults it had at midnight," he said.
"Similarly, it is totally unacceptable to have an ambulance with a malfunctioning air-conditioning system or siren that is not fit for use at Mosta Health Centre, but to be subsequently provided for use at Mater Dei Hospital. Can somebody accept the fact that a broken seat in the back of an ambulance that can be used by relatives, patients or the nurses themselves be repaired by the use of cable ties? Who is certifying such modification?", he asks.
MUMN through its members have been repeatedly pointing out that the ambulances in Mater Dei Hospital are not up to the necessary safety standards. In fact such ambulances even had sirens not functioning at all and still provided by the ambulance garage for emergency cases.
Although the Health Division have been assuring MUMN and its members that a fleet of new ambulances will soon be purchased, it is clear that the Health Division has been taking MUMN and its nurses for a ride since this has been an ongoing problem for more than a year now.
Unfortunately the Health Department seems more inclined to the hiring of private ambulances rather than investing in a new fleet. Mean while the hiring of ambulances is causing the taxpayer to simply fork out huge amounts of money by hiring discarded ambulances from the United Kingdom from private
contractors. Nevertheless, the provision of a new ambulances will only solve the problem temporarily. Drastic measures need to be taken with the general running of the ambulance garage system, followed by a much needed overhaul of the whole pre-hospital system.
"To this very day the legislation so that our highly trained emergency nurses to provide life saving drugs in pre ambulance care is still not in force. Another one of those issues where the Health Division has been “studying” for the last eight years", MUMN President Paul Pace argued.
The MUMN is therefore issuing directives to the E/A department in Mater Dei Hospital and to Mosta Health Centre, that any ambulances being provided by the ambulance garage, that are defective, have an non functioning siren, have a malfunctioning air-condition system and is not to proper health and safety
standards, are not to be used and such nurses are to refuse to go on such ambulances.
"Nurses who provide such emergency service so vital to the country should not have their lives put at risk by either lack of management in the Health Division or by someone who is after all just benefiting from such a
situation," MUMN said.