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Mater Dei doctors to help out Gozo hospital after clinching a better deal

Severe staffing shortages have caused difficulties at Gozo general hospital

The Gozo General Hospital is being kept on ‘life support’ thanks to Mater Dei Hospital doctors.

The Gozo General Hospital is being kept on ‘life support’ thanks to Mater Dei Hospital doctors.

Mater Dei Hospital doctors would return to the Gozo General Hospital on Wednesday after the government offered “reasonable conditions” to lure them back again, the Medical Association of Malta said on Tuesday.

Times of Malta reported last month the hospital was being kept on life support thanks to Mater Dei doctors who had offered to take it in turns to perform duties there day by day.

However, Medical Association of Malta general secretary Martin Balzan said the stopgap solution had been put on hold after the conditions offered to the stand-in doctors were not considered “good enough”.

“The way things stood, there was no point crossing over to Gozo and it was better to stay at home. I took an oath to help patients to the best of my ability but I’m not a volunteer,” a specialist who asked not to be named told the Times of Malta.

Speaking after a meeting with the health authorities yesterday, Dr Balzan said the Gozo hospital was in “dire straits” and “in need of rescuing”.

Dr Balzan said doctors were now being offered “advantageous” conditions to work at the Gozo General Hospital on a temporary basis and specialists from Malta would return to Gozo today.

The Health Ministry is looking for specialists to fill the shortages in Gozo on a permanent basis.

Some doctors suffer from burnout as a result of the situation

Dr Balzan said the issue of understaffing at the hospital had come to a head, as consultants were working very long stretches to make up for the shortage. Some doctors had suffered from burnout as a result of the situation, he added.

The Health Ministry announced last month recruitment would be made in line with a recent agreement signed between the ministry and the doctors’ union.

Under the agreement, the government will remain responsible for engaging staff, notwithstanding the concession for Steward Health Care to manage the hospital.

Gozitan doctors who spoke to this newspaper raised another problem facing Gozo’s health service: “pride”.

“Gozitan doctors often don’t want to work in Gozo because they are worried they will be considered second-rate,” said one Gozitan specialist who had remained on the sister island.

“They all try to get a job at Mater Dei to be treated more seriously.”

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