PN welcomes health budget but concerned over IVF fee

Opposition urges government to reconsider decision to charge IVF services.

Health shadow minister Claudio Grech welcomed a number of positive measures in the budget dedicated to health but voiced concern over the introduction of a fee for IVF services.

Addressing the press at the PN's headquarters, Grech said that the majority of the health budget was a continuation of the programmes launched by a Nationalist administration.

He however said it was worrying that the government has now introduced fees on the national health system.

"Government is distinguishing between services and medicines. It is worrying that patients seeking in vitro fertilisation have to pay up to €2,500. IVF should be accessible to everyone, not just to those who can afford," Grech said.

The national health service will be charging patients seeking in vitro fertilisation up to €2,500 for the hormonal stimulation of female patients. The PN MP pointed out that it was the first time that a government was distinguishing between medicines offered and services provided.

He urged the government to review its decision and abolish the fee.

"Patients shouldn't be charged for a medical service and the PN is in total disagreement with the policy," he said.

Grech voiced concern over the halving of the funds allocated for the primary healthcare.

He said no concrete solution was offered to mitigate the problem of out-of-stock medicines, a problem he conceded has been going on for years.

"But all we got was a promise to publish a white paper... and a third of the legislature would have already been over by the time it will be published," he said.

Claudio Grech said he will keep an open mind on the recommendations John Dalli was going to present.

"Dalli served as minister for half the past legislature, I'm not going to say he does not have a valid contribution to make. But it is worrying to see the management of Mater Dei divided in two: on one hand you have the minister taking political decisions, and on the other John Dalli pushing for reform."

On mental health, Grech said the PN does not agree with the building of another institution replacing Mount Carmel hospital but called for more investment in the existing structures and facilities.