The MAM doctors' union has hailed the total support it received in Tuesday's strike from doctors working in hospitals affected by 'privatisation'.

"In yesterday’s industrial, all doctors at Gozo Health centres, Gozo General Hospital, Dermatology department at Boffa Hospital, Karin Grech Hospital, and Pscychiatry followed MAM directives giving a 100% response.

"These are the hospitals currently affected by the proposed transfer to Steward Healthcare, and MAM thanks members for sending such a clear message.
of support," the union said. 

The strike was ordered in protest over the way St Luke's, Karin Grech and Gozo hospital are being transferred to Steward Healthcare.

READ: Political parties react as MAM declares doctors' strike a success

The union said that all possible future privatisations, including that of Mater Dei Hospital, would be governed by the same clause of the doctors' collective agreement requiring six weeks of discussion.

"It is indeed a bad omen from the government side when it goes about these deals in a secretive way."

MAM apologized for the inconvenience caused to patients and thanked those who understood its message.

It hoped future decisions in health care would be taken in more transparent ways rather than behind the back of patients and health care professionals.

Tuesday's strike affected some 1,700 patients who had outpatient hospital appointments. 

According to Mater Dei Hospital CEO Ivan Falzon, of the 1,700 patients who had appointments only about 400 turned up. About half of them required services that were not affected by the strike and were therefore seen to. The remaining 200 had their appointments rescheduled.

A similar situation was reported at health centres, where doctors did not report to work at Gżira, Rabat, Birkirkara, Qormi and Cospicua. Only walk-in cases needing emergency care were seen to at the Paola, Floriana, Mosta and Victoria centres. 

House calls were limited to one doctor per health centre. Their colleagues at Mater Dei observed a work-to-rule directive, and those performing administrative duties did not answer phone calls or e-mails.

Despite the industrial action, the situation at both Mater Dei and the health centres appeared to be calm, and while many were aware of the strike and only turned up to reschedule, some patients seemed oblivious to the action. 

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