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A new Government will be introducing a Charter for Patients’ rights which will include also the maximum waiting time for every operation. If a patient has to wait more than the timeframe specified, s/he would have the right to resort to private care at the Government’s expense. This measure will also be anticipating the implementation of the EU Directive on patient mobility.
The above announcement was made by the Leader of the Partit Laburista (PL), Joseph Muscat, during a press conference in front of Mater Dei Hospital.The PL Leader stated that the proposals moved forward by the PL, are part of a sustainable plan for the health sector, with the fundamental principle of free health services for all.
Joseph Muscat announced that a new Government will embark on an extensive programme of expansion and modernisation of the Health Centres, so that these provide primary healthcare services in their community, whilst avoiding overcrowding at Mater Dei. The PL leader stressed the fact that these centres should give a wider span of services so that individuals may avoid going to hospital for issues which can be easily resolved at the clinics. Joseph Muscat stated that a new Government will also be looking at possibilities of new premises, particularly to the south-eastern side of Malta.
Another very important measure that a new Government, if elected, would take up is the implementation of a co-ordinated national project to deliver free medicines to the patients in their own homes. Initially, a new Government will be ensuring this service to elderly persons over 70 years of age and with mobility problems and persons with severe disabilities, stated Muscat. The PL Leader explained that this proposal will be a complementary one to the Pharmacy of Your Choice, with the ultimate aim of bringing these services closer to the people.
Joseph Muscat affirmed that an immediate solution has to be found to the problem of the shortage of beds resulting in patients in corridors. This plan will be given priority and will be designed with all those involved and will also explore the possibility of involving private hospitals.
The PL Leader also spoke about the need for improvement in the way appointments are given in hospital so as to reduce the waiting time and overcrowding. Joseph Muscat also spoke about Public Private Partnership, between private hospitals and Government, through which patients will be receiving services for free also from private hospitals.
The PL Leader also announced that a new Call Centre will be set up in order to impart information and give guidance about operations, waiting lists and direction on other services.
Joseph Muscat also spoke about the need to modernise and give more autonomy to the Gozo General Hospital so that Gozitans have the hospital they deserve.
The PL Leader emphasized the importance of excellent relationships with professionals and employees within the health sector in order to improve and enhance development and knowledge for the benefit of the patients. In view of all this, Joseph Muscat mentioned the need to bring back Maltese medical specialists who are based abroad on a permanent or visiting basis. The PL Leader stated that, abroad, there are several famous Maltese specialists who have a very good reputation, and if they so wish, there is need and space for their services here.
Joseph Muscat stated that it is Government’s duty to ensure that medicines continue to be given for free. The PL Leader affirmed that the scheme proposed by the PN in connection with a refund for medicines which are out-of-stock will promulgate a culture where people will start buying the medicines, because the refund will be given based on the prices payed by Government which are much cheaper than the price of medicines bought in a pharmacy. This implies that the patients will not be refunded the whole price of the medicine they paid for.
“A new Government will strive to ensure that the list of medicines which are given for free is increased, whilst decreasing the number of medicines which are repeatedly out-of-stock,” stated Muscat. The PL Leader also spoke about the introduction of modern procurement, tendering and stock-taking processes to make the system more efficient in the provision of medicines which are distributed by the Government.
Finally, Joseph Muscat stressed the fact that proposals about health are of strategic importance, and thus Government will be striving to improve areas where there are weaknesses, which are not at all the fault of employees, but emanate out of lack of planning and vision.