Throwing money at private health

Both Joseph Muscat and Simon Busuttil should refrain from promising that taxpayers’ money should be siphoned to the private medical sector to address a calamity that is the result of bad management.

The electoral campaign for the European Union candidates has led to an unusual number of political proposals and initiatives from the leading political parties.  Earlier this week, the Nationalist Party announced a parliamentary motion to allow patients to access healthcare in private clinics and hospitals. 

During a meeting with private hospital operators at the PN headquarters, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said the parliamentary motion will allow citizens to make use of the EU cross-border health care directive.

However the aim of having the press conference with health care owners paraded in front of the press was to underline the fact that the uptake of patients in private clinics would alleviate the waiting list. 

The owners were visibly uncomfortable during the press conference. But what was more unsettling is that later that day, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat embraced Simon Busuttil’s proposal, stating that government had already included this proposal in their health strategy and political manifesto.

This was indeed worrying. Instead of directing all energies to improve or reduce the waiting list in this heavily-funded public sector – most especially in those areas such as the screening of diseases – the government, together with the Opposition, have abdicated their obligation to use taxpayers’ money effectively and efficiently.

It is also scandalous to believe that the investment in resources and human personnel cannot be managed and improved to allow for a shorter waiting time. And for expediency sake, the government, supported by the Opposition – or vice versa – believe that they should resort to the private sector.

It is perhaps paramount that the government seriously considers addressing waiting lists and screening procedures by investing time and energy in this department.

This is surely not an insurmountable project. In the meantime, both Joseph Muscat and Simon Busuttil should refrain from promising that taxpayers’ money should be siphoned to the private medical sector to address a calamity that is the result of bad management.

An untenable position, time to resign

For years now, this newspaper has voiced its dismay about the set up of the IĠM, the institute that represents journalists in Malta. The concerns have been based on three basic misgivings, one which is underlined by the fact that most of the IĠM’s committee are not practising journalists burdened with conflicts of interest, and secondly because the Institute is heavily funded by big business, and bridging to the media is in their interest. The third concern is the way the Journalists’ Awards are organised year in year out, with the journalists nominating themselves for the awards.

The whole matter has come to a head when in the space of one week, two separate incidents underscore the unsuitability of the President of the IĠM. Mr Malcolm Naudi, its current president, is not a journalist anymore – he runs a marketing company.

This week, Naudi – in his capacity as a marketing executive – called at the newsroom of this newspaper to suggest that the name of a hotel be removed from a story detailing the death of a tourist at that same hotel (the suggestion was ignored).

And in a separate incident, a photojournalist from The Times was assaulted at Mater Dei by security personnel from a same security company which is also represented by Naudi’s marketing company.

Given the circumstances, Naudi’s position as President of the IĠM is entirely untenable.

More importantly, the IĠM deserves to be headed by a group of journalists – or a veteran journalist – who have no vested interests other than promoting the profession and the development of true journalism, in the interests of democracy.

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