St Luke’s Hospital ‘not serving rehabilitation purposes’

MP Claudio Grech says health budget registered a 44% decrease in capital investment

St Luke’s Hospital was not serving its purpose as a rehabilitation hospital, with beds being increasingly occupied by social cases. This, PN MP Claudio Grech said, raised further questions on the lack of community care.

Addressing the budgetary vote for the health ministry, the shadow health minister once again flagged a government decision to separate the elderly portfolio from the health ministry.

“With an ever-increasing ageing population, this decision does not make sense. These two sectors go hand in hand and it was a strategic mistake to separate them,” Grech said.

He expressed concern over the fact that, during the budget speech, there was no mention of St Luke’s Hospital and investment in rehabilitation services.

“Investing in rehabilitation services is an important element that could help decrease overcrowding at Mater Dei Hospital and its corridors. It is a pity that beds at Karin Grech are occupied by long-term cases. Such a development is alarming because it shows that St Luke’s is not serving its purpose as a rehabilitation hospital. It also shows that there is a lack of community care,” Grech said.

He added that the budgetary allocation for capital investment was reduced by 44%, questioning why government was not allocating the necessary financing for capital investment.

Grech argued that beds taken up by social cases were creating bottlenecks at the hospital, resulting in patients being placed in corridors.

“Further investment is needed in all health divisions and not limited to just the hospital’s parameters. The more we centralize investment in one place, the less it become manageable,” he said, calling for investment in primary healthcare and health centres.

The government has announced 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 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. Medical Plus will enter into Public Private Partnership 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.

However, Grech argued that this was no PPP, because an agreement was signed with the Malta Orthopedic Consultancy Services, owned by six orthopedic consultants who already work at Mater Dei.

“The contract is for a year-long term and consultants must carry out 150 knee and hip replacements. It appears as a positive initiative but the government should explain why it didn’t make use of the collective agreement for these extra sessions to take place.”

According to Grech, the contract was signed to avoid the provisions of the collective agreement.