A judge has blocked the nurses’ union from continuing its industrial action at Mater Dei Hospital after health authorities filed an urgent application in court on Saturday.
In a decree handed down later in the day, Mr Justice Robert Mangion upheld the request for a prohibitory injunction filed by the Health Ministry.
Last week the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses issued directives that would stop technicians from decontaminating and sterilising medical instruments used during operations and packaging them for upcoming surgeries.
The move prompted Mater Dei hospital’s chief executive Celia Falzon to ask the private sector to help in sterilising soiled surgical equipment to avoid having to postpone scheduled operations.
The request for an injunction says that the union’s action could stop all surgeries from taking place, including emergency operations and so the industrial action is disproportionate and totally excessive.
The judge provisionally upheld the request and gave the union until Thursday to submit its arguments. A sitting will be held the following Monday, September 27.
When announcing the action, MUMN president Paul Pace had said the issue revolves around the financial package offered to technicians in charge of sterilising the equipment.
The dispute also included phlebotomists, who draw blood, as well as dental surgery technicians who assist dentists.
In all, the directive was issued to some 180 people.
The union and health authorities have been in discussions over the matter for some nine months.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.