Updated | Chemotherapy services in Gozo by end of year – health minister

Health minister says for every worker at Mater Dei Hospital there are almost nine workers at the Gozo General Hospital.

Health Minister Godfrey Farrugia at the public consultation meeting.
Health Minister Godfrey Farrugia at the public consultation meeting.

Chemotherapy services at the Gozo General Hospital will be offered by the end of this year, Health Minister Godfrey Farrugia announced this evening.

Farrugia was reacting to a statement issued this evening by the Nationalist Party in which the Opposition said the government would not be providing such services at the hospital.

But the health minister denied this claim adding the services will be available by the end of the year.

Farrugia said former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi had announced in February his government would setting up a €600,000 oncology centre in Gozo.

"However, the budget vote for Gozo amounts to €80,000. How would this be able to cover the costs?" Farrugia said.

The government embarked on a review process of the project and has now brought down the cost of the same project to €200,000. This cost will also cover a day care unit for outpatients.

"But until the service is offered, we are also offering personalized services to some 11 or 12 patients who have to come down to Malta from Gozo for the service," he said. Such services include the payment of transport.

According to the health minister, 91% of the budget allocation for the Gozo hospital goes to the salaries of the workers. He revealed that for every health worker at Mater Dei Hospital, there were around nine workers at Gozo's hospital.

He also admitted that "most" of these workers were not health providers, some not even trained in providing ECG services.

'No budget allocated for half-way house for eating disorder sufferers'

Advising the public that the best way for weight loss was following a healthy diet and living a healthy life, Farrugia said government believed in providing support to those who wanted to lose weight.

Last year, the PN government, together with President George Abela, announced the project 'Kenn għal Saħħtek' that aims to make available a half-way-house for people suffering from eating disorders.

The project was undertaken by both the Malta Community Chest Fund (MCCF) and the government. During the launch of the project the former prime minister had announced that while MCCF would be covering expenses for the renovation works - in the region of €2 million - the government would be covering operational costs of approximately €1 million yearly.

"But when we took over, we realised that no funds had been allocated by the previous administration," he said.

The home is to open in autumn and can offer professional help and care to 30 residents for up to six months.

Thousands of expired medicine found at hospitals

The government spends €8 million a month in medicines, consumables and knee and hip implants among other. Yearly, the ministry for health requires at least €96 million.

This year's line budget amounted to €68 million, but between April and May the government had to pay €32 million in pending payments.

"We must carry out an overhaul of the procurement process and we need a functional IT system that keeps track of medicines. It doesn't make sense that, currently, the storage of medicine is spread among three different locations," Farrugia said.

Shockingly, the minister revealed that €450,000 medicine was found expired at Sir Paul Boffa Hospital while 35,000 catheters and other medical stuff were found expired at Mater Dei Hospital.

In knee and hip implants alone, the minister found €300,000 implants which were expired.

Farrugia said the government had to find a sustainable way to keep funding the health services: "In contractual services alone, we found a pending bill of €25.2 million. Where is the planning? Where is the sustainable plan the previous administration spoke about?"

The minister said the lack of planning had resulted in other services provided by the hospital to suffer, such as the prosthesis services where 98% of the funds had already been taken up.

Two-year waiting list for dentistry services at MDH

The dentistry waiting list at Mater Dei Hospital is two years long, Farrugia said, with no date set for 400 patients.

Farrugia said upon taking office, he found that 5,000 appointments had not been distributed between October 2012 and February 2013.

The government, he said, has now opened up six position for graduating dentist students. The dentistry is currently operating with five doctors less.

Karin Grech Hospital is 'not' a rehabilitation hospital

The minister was unequivocal in his insistence that Karin Grech Hospital could not be called a rehabiliation hospital. Of eight wards, only one was being used for rehabilitation purposes.

Farrugia said it was a pity that the previous administration failed to invest in a public private partnership that would have ensured government an adequate provision of rehabilitation services.

While a bed at Karin Grech Hospital costs the exchequer €143 per night, through public private partnership, the bed would cost €65 per night.

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Joseph MELI
End of what year? Still waiting for the pledge to be fulfilled to open a Gozo office to process the e-resident card applications
It would have been interesting to hear the Hon minister,s comments with regards to the introductions of a jab against SHINGLES for the over 60s, which is becomning a force majure in the UK. Shingles can become a very devastating illness casueing partial paralyses.
If one dissects the Health Service under PN administration that behind the hype and the decorated facade everything was crumbling - from drug stocks to financial mismanagement to maladministration. PN's lackeys most in director/chairman positions were systematically sabotaging the resign their position before they system - that is why those culpable should be forced to resign and thier actions investigated. Start from those who were named by PSC!Unless PL Govt radcically overhauls the Health Service it will be torpedoed by PN agents. Act before it is late!
Li ma ghamilx il-PN f'25 sena, Dr. Godfrey qieghed jghamlu f'sena! PROSIT Dott ,inhalluh jahdem f'gieh sahhitna !