Casualty ward waiting time to be cut
The opening of a new section in the Admissions and Emergency Department at St Luke's Hospital is expected to drastically cut waiting time for patients considered "less urgent".
A spokesman for St Luke's said the 24-hour See and Treat section started functioning yesterday, manned by a nurse and a senior house officer. They will treat patients classified as priority three in the triage system. Under the three-pronged triage system, patients are seen by doctors according to the nature of their condition, with the most serious categorised as priority one and seen first.
The setting up of the new section follows an agreement between the hospital authorities and the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses.
Union general secretary Colin Galea said patients classified as "priority three" sometimes had to wait between four and six hours before they were seen by a doctor.
Of the 300-odd patients who visit casualty every 24 hours, around 60, who are classified as priority three, could now receive immediate treatment, he said.
A working group has been set up to discuss how to further reduce waiting times.
The union had ordered industrial action on Tuesday on concerns that the heavy workload at the casualty department meant nurses were unable to guarantee a high enough level of care.
The action, which was due to come into force yesterday morning, has now been called off following meetings with the hospital authorities over the past two days.
The talks have also dealt with a union demand for a new uniform for casualty nurses and for private insurance cover for nurses travelling in ambulances.
Mr Galea said the issues are being addressed and consultations about new uniforms have already started.
The health authorities, he added, have agreed on the need for insurance cover and the issue has been referred to the finance ministry.