Radical overhaul needed in healthcare, think-tank says in damning indictment

A radical healthcare overhaul is needed in Malta, ‘to cure constant underperformance in access and outcomes’ – Euro Health Consumer Index

Waiting times are too long and medical outcomes not even mediocre. Infant deaths, a very revealing indicator, are still alarmingly high at a level otherwise known only in poor South-Eastern Europe.
Waiting times are too long and medical outcomes not even mediocre. Infant deaths, a very revealing indicator, are still alarmingly high at a level otherwise known only in poor South-Eastern Europe.

Malta’s top-five ranking in the WHO’s access to health has been dented by a dismal ranking of 27 in the 2014 Euro Health Consumer Index, scoring 582 points out of the maximum 1000, a loss of one position since the 2013 study.

The eighth edition of the EHCI was presented today in Brussels in the presence of the EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis. The Netherlands stay on top, gaining 898 out of maximum 1,000 points, followed by Switzerland, Norway, Finland and Denmark. The study includes 36 countries plus Scotland.

“Malta moves with the crowd, meaning a higher number of ECHI points 2014 as its healthcare improves overall. For Malta that is not enough to keep the rank, as competing countries improve even more,” HCP chairman Dr Arne Bjornberh said.

“Malta has strengthened patient information, improved the range and reach of services and become more active in prevention. It looks as if Malta finally has tried to address the severe diabetes problem on the island, with efforts to reduce sugar intake and improve blood pressure monitoring. But there remains a lot to do!”

While more and more states are changing laws on healthcare in terms of rights of citizens instead of obligations of providers, only 2 out of 34 countries had not introduced healthcare legislation based on rights of patients: Malta and Sweden.

In spite of some improvement, most of the weaknesses ECHI identified for several years in Malta still remain, Bjornberg said.

“Waiting times are too long and medical outcomes not even mediocre. Infant deaths, a very revealing indicator, are still alarmingly high at a level otherwise known only in poor South-Eastern Europe. The abortion ban not only discriminates against women but is a threat to good health,” he said.

“When we started to observe the Maltese healthcare performance we often heard the assurance that the new Mater Dei hospital in Valetta would mean a big change and do away with hospital infections and poor treatment outcomes. That was 2007. We now have the sad record: very little has really improved. Malta is in need of a radical healthcare overhaul.”

The Health Consumer Powerhouse Ltd (HCP) publishes the annual Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI), an independent monitoring of healthcare in 36 countries.

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