The Malta Government decided to resolve the shortage of doctors in state hospitals by forcing newly qualified doctors to serve as housemen for a period of two years before being granted a license to practice. Formerly, doctors completed a pre-registration year before moving to England for post graduate studies.
In May 1977, the government passed legislation compelling all medical graduates to work in state hospitals for a two year period immediately on graduation. This led to a limited industrial action by the Malta Medical Association. The dispute disrupted the qualifying examinations of 39 final year medical students who flew to England to sit the Conjoint Examination of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and Royal College of Physicians of London.