UĦM has issued scaled down directives for Podiatrists working within the Public Health Service, that started on Monday 6th July 2015.
Despite repeated meetings since June 2014, together with a joint statement released between the Ministry of Health and the Union in September 2014, also reported in local media, whereby the government had committed itself to increase support staff in order to implement specific reforms within the different podiatry services, as of yet, no concrete dates or indication of employment has been given.
Podiatrists with the public service are often constrained to do clinical and non-clinical work, which is not within their scope of practice. Moreover, due to a lack of trained assistants, foot care cases have to be absorbed by Podiatrists. This poses significant concerns since Podiatrists are ending up having less time with patients who desperately require regular and focused Podiatric care. These are often vulnerable elderly people, diabetic patients and those with significant biomechanical problems, amongst others.
These longstanding problems have been hindering the implementation of much needed reforms, which include the provision of a patient-oriented service wherein each patient is given enough time for a holistic assessment, diagnosis and treatment.
Currently, each patient is only given 15 minutes of consultation time across the majority of primary care services, independent of the nature of the case and his risk status. Such time constraints limits the practitioner’s ability to offer a quality service at par with international standards.
UĦM, together with all stakeholders, has proposed and discussed solutions but to date the government has shown no clear commitment of implementation.
Unless clear commitments are given from the government’s side, directives shall remain in force. Furthermore, should the urgent matter continue to fall on deaf ears, directives are to increase by Monday 13th July 2015.