Medical students rally against privatisation of public healthcare

Medical students: 'The health service should be patient-centric, not aimed at making profits'

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
1 April 2017, 4:24pm
University medical students are concerned over the handover of three hospitals to private management
University medical students are concerned over the handover of three hospitals to private management
People with health problems should not be seen as cash cows, a public healthcare advocacy group said today.

‘Patients not Profit’ held a demonstration in Valletta this afternoon against the trend towards privatizing Malta's healthcare system.

The group said the activity, which was attended by surgeon Kevin Cassar and researcher Dr. George Debono, was aimed at raising awareness about what taxpayer's money is actually being used on.

Matthew Drake, a fifth year medical student, called for transparency especially when dealing with healthcare issues. “

“The health service should be patient-centric, not aimed at making profits,” Drake said, adding that "expanding Malta’s healthcare services shouldn’t have been speeded up by renting out three hospitals to a commercial company.”

Vitals Global Healthcare has taken over the Gozo General Hospital, St Luke’s Hospital and Karin Grech Rehabilitation Hospital.

Drake argued that privatizing public healthcare was not compatible with the ethos of a taxpayer-funded service that the public was free to use.

Thomas Calleja, another fifth year medical student said foreign studies show that it is less sustainable to have private companies run hospitals.

“Corners are inevitably cut and the patient ends up suffering for it,” he argued.

The group said it was asking for "more direct investment rather than lazy delegation to the private sector.”

Medical student Alex Clayman also voiced fears that for-profit medical schools, such as Barts, threatened to encroach on the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Malta. “

We'd rather not be here, but recent and ongoing transgression into public health and social justice have left us unable to remain silent any longer.”

One chronically ill attendee told the MaltaToday that she was worried that the prospect of a for-profit medical system would attract the wrong kind of person to the medical profession.

“Doctors should become doctors out of a desire to help people and not to get rich.”

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...