MAM disagrees with construction of new outpatients department

The Medical Association of Malta said that the Auditor General's report confirmed that outpatient waiting time would remain a problem, with patients having to wait a year for their first appointment

The Medical Association of Malta said this afternoon that it was not behind the government in its plans to construct a new outpatients department at Mater Dei Hospital.

“It is unnecessary and sends mixed messages about afternoon sessions. funds should be used to recruit more consultants, and supporting staff to improve the outpatient experience and reduce waiting times,” said the association in a statement.

Reacting to the Auditor General’s report on outpatient services at Mater Dei Hospital, it said that it confirmed that outpatient waiting time would remain a problem with patients having to wait a year in general for their first appointment.

The MAM said that general practitioners and hospital-based specialists could refer patients to hospital for investigations according to a collective agreement signed between the government and the MAM. While patients were requested to register they were not normally referred for further outpatient appointments taking up slots unnecessarily, it added.

It also stressed that the Auditor general had failed to appreciate that "as a matter of professional courtesy, consultants normally see hundreds of hospital staff over and above their normal lists normally at the end of their clinic".

Although according to hospital audits, there were a few inappropriate referrals to Mater Dei by GPs, the MAM insisted that it was often pharmacy rules which obliged patients using expensive drugs to make hospital appointments for bureaucratic reasons.

Moreover, the doctors' association said that despite the fact that newly-appointed consultants and specialists were required to perform a few afternoon or evening sessions at the outpatients department, management had so far been slow in enforcing the requirements.

Finally, the MAM said the suggestion of using public private partnerships as a solution would result in funds being wasted on third parties, thereby adding yet another layer of costs to management, and indirectly resulting in fewer funds allocating for services.