Joint Statement: Association of Podiatrists of Malta (APM) and Union Haddiema Maqghudin (UHM)

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Compromised patient service due to the lack of equipment and health & safety practices in hospital, community and primary care settings

Both UHM and APM through a joint statement would like to notify the public that due to long standing critical issues including lack of instruments in specific health centers and compromised health & safety for both patients and clinicians, the union has issued a preventive measure so that toe- nail care services offered by Podiatrists in clinical and hospital settings are stopped with immediate effect on grounds of health & safety.

Unfortunately a couple of weeks ago in a cost cutting exercise, a decision was taken to change the method of packaging of reusable instruments after sterilization at CSSD, Mater Dei. This has created a situation that may potentially cause a number of health hazards including cross-contamination particularly in hospital ward rounds and in direct breach of the professional code of ethics Podiatrists are bound to follow when treating their patients.

Moreover, in specific health centers, equipment available for routine toenail care, particularly in the vulnerable diabetic population, is less than 1/4th of the total daily requirement. In other locations a large number of the equipment available is either broken or deemed unsafe for use since such equipment and according to standard international practices can only be used for a couple of months of repeated sterilization. In many cases such equipment has not been replaced in the last 4 years.

In the past, this situation has only been tackled with temporary measures by the Department of Health and as a result this has created a repeated longstanding problem, which crops up from time to time. At this stage only permanent solutions are being sought addressing both the short and long-term and modeled on internationally recognized practice standards in podiatry, in the interest of patient and practitioner safety.

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