Nationalist MPs question government’s health sector plans

Nationalist MPs Joe Cassar and Michael Gonzi question the new government’s plans for the health sector and auger that benchmarks set by PN administration are met and bettered .

Mater Dei hospital was at the centre of a number of interventions by Nationalist MPs in the 2013 Budget debate.
Mater Dei hospital was at the centre of a number of interventions by Nationalist MPs in the 2013 Budget debate.

Former health minister Joe Cassar said that all the measures included in this years' budget were introduced by the previous administration and boasted that the health sector epitomised the previous government's positive work practices.

Speaking in Parliament during the 2013 Budget debate, Cassar slammed the new health minister's decision to set up office at the emergency department at Mater Dei Hospital saying this was tantamount to "overstepping boundaries."

He said every health minister, going back to the seventies, had had an office in the general hospital, but the offices were set up at the administration section and not in the emergency department.

"This was the norm because the minister is responsible for policy. Setting up an office at the emergency department undermines the hospital's management because the minister's presence sheds doubt on the management's competence," Cassar said. 

He also asked when medicines will be delivered to patients at their residencies, as promised by the Labour Party in the electoral campaign. "Will be next week, next month, next year or in five years time? I hope you do not come up with the excuse you have been using in recent weeks about a lack of funds," Cassar said.

He also asked the government to explain whether the meals on wheels service offered to the elderly would be means tested and when will the IVF services be available at Mater Dei Hospital.

Mater Dei hospital was not the be all and end all, Cassar said, insisting that the government should focus on improving primary healthcare.

While stressing the efforts undertaken by the Nationalist government, Cassar questioned the government why the refurbished Mosta health centre had not been opened, while work on the Rabat health centre has not yet commenced.

Addressing the deserted government benches, with the exception of finance minister Edward Scicluna and new MP Deborah Schembri, Nationalist MP Michael Gonzi said the new government could not avoid tackling the problems at the emergency department at Mater Dei and out of stock medicines.

"I hope the new health minister does not claim to have resolved the problems afflicting the emergency department and the health centres in one week," Gonzi said.

The PN leader's brother and family doctor, michael Gonzi insisted that consecutive Nationalist administrations had increased the health sector budget allocation year after year and augured that the new Labour government reaches and betters these benchmarks. 

Former Parliamentary Secretary for the Elderly Mario Galea said that the government decision to go ahead with presenting the same budget presented last year by the Nationalist administration was contradictory, because after shooting it down in December from the opposition benches, the new government was now eagerly pushing for the budget to be approved.

He also said the decision to appoint Labour MP Anthony Agius Decelis as an advisor to Social Policy minister Marie Louise Coleiro Preca with parliamentary secretary for the elderly Franco Mercieca was an error and "unfair" on the MP himself.

"If Agius Decelis was so eager to contribute to the sector than why was he not given an executive role?" Galea said, adding that the using the same resoning the government should also appoint advisors for other elderly care institutions.

Anthony Agius Decelis , a nurse by profession, will be setting up shop at the St Vincent de Paul state home for the elderly, which accommodates 1,200 residents.

He will be retaining his salary as an MP and as a nurse, but instead he will be seconded to his SVPR office to implement the government's policy for the elderly.

Mario Galea also denied claims that the PN administration rented out beds for the elderly exclusively from PN donor and construction magnate Nazzareno Vassallo pointing out that the previous government had also made use of the services offered by former Labour MP Louis Buhagiar.

In his maiden speech, newly elected Opposition MP and cardiologist Albert Fenech noted that the House of Parliament, which he described as one of the most "stressful locations in Malta," had nine elected MPs who were doctors and presented the deputy Speaker Censu Galea, a portable defiblarator donated by a private company. Additionally, another company was offering free courses for Parliament employees in first aid.

mater Dei's problems will not be solved in 1 week - after 5 years, the PN administration did not have a clue of how to solve any of Mater dei's problems. Chronic lack of beds, chonic lack of medicines, intrigue, jobs for the boys,debt of millions of euro with suppliers, alienated workforce by illogical decisions. The Health Minister surely has a lot on his plate.
What benchmarks had been set by the PN administration? Longer queues for operations, longer hours at the Emergency Dept? What benchmarks?
Boundaries in the sending of bouquets was truly overstepped by the than health Minister Joe Cassar.... and Mario Galea! He even COMMISSIONED Funeral Parlours to inform him when anyone from his distric died to have some flowers sent "ON THE HOUSE" of course!
Dr. Cassar should now give everyone a break and be more constructive in his criticism. It is a statement of fact that Dr. Cassar seems to have forgotten what happened when he was Health minister! There were numerous concerns that took place which we have all read about regarding the appointment of consultant surgeons. These appointments were annulled and this is a statement of fact! The public was left with many unanswered questions! He now chooses to criticise the Minister for setting up his office at Mater Dei! A couple of weeks ago we also heard Dr. Balzan saying the same. I tend to diasgree completely with both. Dr. Cassar was given a chance now he should leave the Ministry in the hands of competent experts to do what is necessary. Yes, the Minister should be on site at Mater Dei assessing and observing the working attitudes, communication of all staff in particular those consultants, specialists and doctors. I am sure that Dr. Farrugia can rectify any weaknesses that could have been corrected when Dr. Cassar was Minister!
With this one simple act Profs A Fenech may save a life in the future. Now that`s change.
Rather ridiculous that the ex-health minister is giving his learned opinion, after all he had failed in the basics of his job ( crisis in the emergency dept, shortage of drugs, year long waiting lists) so what good advise can he give to the present Minister ? Should the out-patient`s appointments be hidden again?
What a case of sour grapes! Minister Farrugia must be really achieving results if he's getting these reactions!