Shortage of staff at hospital pharmacy triggers union action

The pharmacy dispensing service at Mater Dei Hospital is suspended for hours every day as a labor dispute over understaffing persists.

In a memo circulated to healthcare professionals at the hospital, which was seen by Malta weather, the administrative department of Mater Dei said that due to the “current social conflict”, distribution services were suspended between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., except for emergencies.

Pneumatic tube and online requisition systems were also being ignored while the guidelines were in place, professionals said.

Contacted about the dispute, a spokesperson for the UĦM Voice of the Workers, the union representing public health pharmacists, confirmed the action, noting that the dispute had been going on for about three weeks.

On what prompted the union’s action, the spokesman said the dispute was registered due to the lack of adequate staff.

He said that as a result of this and in order to ensure that all pharmacy services were offered, staff were not even able to take time off.

A meeting with the Ministry of Health on the matter was held on Tuesday, the spokesperson continued, stressing however that there had not yet been an official response, and that therefore the action called for by the union was still in place.

Earlier this year, the union ordered a series of directives as talks on a new sectoral agreement collapsed. The dispute was resolved a few days later pending further discussions with the government on its vision for the sector and better training opportunities for pharmacists.

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