No acceptance letter yet for nursing council ‘elected’ candidates pending inquiry
Informed sources close to the Health Ministry said that the three candidates who were supposedly “elected” to form the Nurses and Midwives Council have not been formally acknowledged of their “victory”, pending the results of an inquiry into the voting procedure.
The Government Gazette, on the other hand, has published the names of the elected candidates.
A judicial protest claiming irregularities in the election was filed by two of the five candidates contesting the election, who flagged “irregularities” in the voting procedures.
“Irregularities” laid out in the protest mainly relate to what appeared to be two sets of voting documents and the fact that two ink spots could be seen on a large number of votes in the exact same position, indicating that photocopies had been made.
It was also confirmed by the Electoral Commission - specifically set up for this election, not the once constitutionally established entity to oversee general elections - that a number of the ballot papers had a photocopied stamp of the Council for Nurses and Midwives – which in itself “corrupts the electoral process in question,” the judicial protest claimed.
Following the judicial protest, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced the launch of an inquiry into the allegations put forward.
An open letter signed by the candidates who filed the protest, Maria Cassar and Corinne Ward, asked the ministry not to publish or endorse the results of the election until the outcome of the inquiry. The council passed on the results to the government regardless, and the 2 September issue of the Government Gazzette stated that the winners were Geoffrey Asciak, Alexander Manche and Alexander Lautier.
Minister Fearne has been
quoted saying that the council was autonomous from the Health Ministry, and that it was up to the council to publish the results.
The Nurses and Midwives Council is responsible for the processing of new nurses and midwives, as stated by the Minister of Health online page:
“For a person to be able to practice as a nurse in Malta, first he/she needs to submit the relative application supported by the documents as requested by the Council for Nurses and Midwives and, if approved by the Council, have his/her name entered in one of the Registers of Nurses held by the Council for Nurses and Midwives. “
It therefore remains unclear whether any more nurses or midwives have been approved since the judicial protest was filed, and an inquiry was called in the first week of September.
In the past few days, various media reports stated that, contrary to the norm, the government would not be employing all 160 nursing graduates, and only had enough in the state coffers to hire 100. Following a series of complaints by parents of the graduates, according to media reports, the government then said it would be employing all 160 graduates.
In June, the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses filed an industrial dispute with the Health Ministry due to a shortage of nurses at Mt Carmel Hospital, and the level of supervision being demanded – especially for patients at risk of harming themselves – meant that nursing staff were being stretched too thinly.
In light of this, it would seem prudent for the processing of applications and the admitting of new nurses to the registry is important for the smooth day-today running of public sector nurses. Currently, three members of the Nurses and Midwives Council have yet to be formally acknowledged and appointed to the board due to the allegations about the voting procedure according to informed sources – however it is as yet unclear whether applications are being processed irrespective of this, or whether major disruptions are being caused.
In addition to this, the council is also responsible for the overseeing of training and the reviewing of nursing programmes and is in charge of doling out disciplinary action whenever a complaint is filed or wrongdoing is reported.
It is also unclear whether the remainder of the Council’s tasks are being carried out – however informed sources have revealed that since the vote took place, there have been no further Council meetings.