Surgeons told to perform more operations at Mater Dei

Medical Plus Malta targets under-utilised operating theatres and pays surgeons to fulfil weekly quota and weekend operations

The Muscat government is taking on private clinics and Malta’s only private hospital head-on with a new finance initiative to make surgeons work more inside public hospitals instead of taking patients out of the system so that they pay for ‘preferential’ surgery in private clinics.

With Medical Plus Malta the Muscat government is proposing that specialists will offer medical operations at weekends in the under-utilised operating theatres which tend to remain closed unless an emergency crops up.

The new measure is aimed at reducing the hospital waiting lists, but in doing so it will definitely eat into the operations held privately in many of the private clinics and private hospitals.

A new company, Medical Plus will enter into Public Private Partership arrangements with specialists at Mater Dei. Apart from increasing the number of operations during working hours, operations will be carried out during weekends, when operating theatres are idle.

Specialists and surgeons will be given a weekly quota and once reached they’ll be given an opportunity to perform additional operations, which are normally held in private hospitals.

Mater Dei still offers the best medical service on the Island and more importantly it also has the best guarantee for an overall health service.  The government may have just issued a fatwa to the private health sector but offered a guaranteed revenue stream for health specialists.

Government sources said that the medical specialists would be requested to carry out a fixed number of operations and then add on this quota a number of extra operations. “Payment for these operations will probably be slightly lower than what they are paid in the private sector, but it will be an assured flow of work.”

The proposal will also reduce the dependence on private clinics which traditionally served to replace the slow and understaffed public medical service.

There has been no reference to private health insurance and it appears that discussion with the operators is still in its early stages.

The government has also announced that it wishes to have Gozo serve as an attraction for a medical hub for foreign medical tourism, knowing all too well that the hospital in Victoria, could very well serve this purpose.

And as a final knot to the government’s blueprint for health reform is the intention to invite a private partner to actively engage in a proposal into converting St Luke’s hospital as a medical recovery centre.

It is another clear indication of how central health reform is to government policy.

St Luke’s

The private sector will also be invited to submit proposals and eventually manage the St Luke’s Hospital building in Guardamangia, with government showing preference for a health related venture.

Privatising Bormla clinic
Government will enter in agreement with a private company to refurbish and manage the Bormla health centre. In what is a first, Scicluna reassured that government workers will be redeployed to other areas and services will remain free of charge as government will foot the bill.

New health clinic

A new health centre will be built in Zurrieq while the Rabat clinic will undergo a facelift.

More in Budget 2015