The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) requires that all yachts carrying 15 or more crew and engaged in a trip of more than three days must provide a dedicated medical space on board which, according to the convention, “will, in all weathers, be easy of access, provide comfortable housing for the occupants and be conducive to their receiving prompt and proper attention.”
While the MLC is a convention that has been put in place to improve crews’ rights (and this requirement applies only to those yachts being built from now onwards), the requirement of a dedicated medical space, the details of which vary between flags, is a safety benefit that some owners are extending to themselves. “Most new medical spaces tend to be guest based, but with a view to be used for crew if needed,” explains Tony Nicholson, director – luxury yachts, new builds at MedAire.
In Nicholson’s experience, designs tend to lean to the far ends of each side of the spectrum. “There are two ways this is being viewed,” he explains. “Either owners are just putting in the minimum that is required by flag or they’re looking at it and saying, ‘Why wouldn’t we do something like this properly?’ and they’re raising the standards to create a space as close as possible to what is available on shore.”
For those going for the latter option and having decided to create a very advanced medical space on their superyacht, some serious technology is making its way onto these boats, from digital capture x-rays and ultrasounds to blood diagnostics and the ability to manage someone’s airway and stabilise them from cardiac conditions.
It may seem far fetched, but it is not unheard of that an owner has a medical team that travels with them. They may want to carry out very specific tests with advanced equipment, and this is where the requirement of a medical space on board becomes very useful. As a relatively new trend, albeit with a legislative catalyst, it is important to take advice from medical experts as in addition to the designer or owner’s team in the shipyard. “Practically or functionally the space may not be ideal from a patient management and clinical perspective. What MedAire has experienced is four or five years before a yacht is due for delivery we’re brought in to provide additional insight from a clinical and supply chain point of view,” explains Nicholson.
For those owners without a medical team, who will be there to use the medical space when needed? As TheCrewReport.com recently reported, the recruitment industry is seeing a rise in requests for medical personnel, either as permanent crewmembers or supernumeraries. So an increased medical awareness on board is certainly on the cards and at the end of the day, regardless of for whom the regulations have been put in place, they will be of benefit to both owners and crew.