Around 120 patients to be relocated from Mount Carmel Hospital as facility starts closing down

Mental health care reform will be split over three phases, and will see Mount Carmel Hospital closed down and replaced by an Acute Psychiatric Unit at Mater Dei Hospital

Mount Carmel Hospital (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Mount Carmel Hospital (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

The health minister announced details on Mount Carmel’s phasing out plan for the coming three years on Monday.

Minister Jo Etienne Abela said the mental health care reform, which will be split into three phases, will see around 120 patients relocated to community homes in agreement with the private sector in the first phase of the reform.

“The reform will continue reducing the stigma associated with institutionalization,” Abela said.

The first group of patients moved out of the facility will be people with the mildest and most stable of conditions, and will be moved to government-run psychiatric services in the community or homes that are licensed for psychiatric use and run by other mental health NGOs.

Health Minister Jo Etienne Abela
Health Minister Jo Etienne Abela

The second phase of the reform will see the acute psychiatric service relocated to Mater Dei Hospital, where there will be a psychiatric ward capable of accommodating around 30 patients. The psychiatric ward had been closed down and reconverted to a COVID ward for patients during the pandemic.

The final phase of this reform will be the introduction of an Acute Psychiatric Unit, with an investment of around €33 million. This will be a state-of-the-art facility that will be able to accommodate 128 patients at Mater Dei Hospital.

Minister Abela explained that this is a model of care that already exists at the Gozo General Hospital, where all types of illness are treated in one hospital, without distinction. He added that the Foundation for Medical Services (FMS) is in an advanced process to apply for the construction of this unit, which is expected to take about four years to complete.

“The Government recognizes and agrees with the advice of experts in the field of mental health and is determined to implement a radical change in the infrastructure and services for mental health care. We are committed to offering modern care in a welcoming and healthy environment,” he said.