'No reason for health minister to resign' - Claudio Grech

Hospital bed shortage crisis disrupting patients and staff, Nationalist MP Claudio Grech says.

Claudio Grech
Claudio Grech

The unprecedented crisis at Mater Dei Hospital requires immediate action, Nationalist MP Claudio Grech said today as he proposed a number of short-term solutions to the current bed shortage.

Speaking outside the hospital, Grech said that the PN was refusing to take a populist approach and instead was putting forward a number of short- and medium-term solutions.   

"We must put things in perspective and admit that such crises are not exclusive to Malta. Such things happen everywhere and it would be populist to say that it only happens in Malta," Grech said.

Grech, who has so far proved to be a moderate and pragmatic MP in his first few months in Parliament, once again called for consensus and said that the opposition would take a proactive role in the health sector by identifying the cause of problems afflicting the sector while putting forward concrete proposals.

He added that he saw no reason for health minister Godfrey Farrugia to resign following last week's controversy which saw the ministry erect a marquee outside the day care unit at Mater Dei Hospital to make space for more beds.

"Resigning would be the easiest way out, however the people deserve and expect concrete action," Grech said as he reiterated his appreciation for Farrugia's efforts.

"The main solution lays in having a coherent and integrated policy because it is impossible to address the sector's problems through fragmented policies," he said.

Stressing that the main cause of the bed shortage at Mater Dei was the ever-growing demand for beds, especially by elderly patients, Grech called on the government to invest in tertiary care and rehabilitation services, re-introduce waiting list outsourcing and allocate vacant positions in homes for the elderly to patients currently occupying beds at Mater Dei.

Listing the causes of bed shortages, Grech underlined demographic trends which show that by 2040 more than one in four will be over 65 years of age, the "misguided separation of the tertiary health services from the acute domain," and the lack of investment in rehabilitation services and the tertiary sector.

Grech added that the solution of the bed and operational crisis at Mater Dei "cannot be driven through insensitive knee-jerk solutions such as the erection of a tent or even worse moving the ECT service from Mater Dei to Mount Carmel hospital."

He called on government to reverse its decision and treat psychiatric patients with "dignity." Grech explained that psychiatric patients previously received electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) at the psychiatric department at Mater Dei for a number of reasons, including the support services available at the hospital and the fact that most patients underwent other kinds of treatment.

Now, these patients were receiving ECT at the outpatients ward at Mount Carmel hospital and Grech added that "although we are talking about a small number of patients but problems should not be resolved by economising in such sensitive areas." 

Admitting that "not enough had been made," under previous administrations, Grech said the long term solutions to the perpetual overcrowding at Mater Dei lay in further investment in primary and community care and opening more homes for elderly care.

"We need to restore serenity because the staff cannot work under constant pressure," Grech added, reiterating the PN's position to seek political consensus on strategic healthcare issues. Once again, he urged government to support the opposition's motion for the setting up of a Parliamentary standing committee for health.

Maureen Attard
Mhux kapaċi. Biex jibki tajjeb jew imexxih xi hadd. Irriżenja u tagħmel unur lilek innifsek. u int ukoll Sur Grech la qed tiddenfendih.
Why is the PN backing the Minister and not keeping silent ???????? It would be populist to say that it only happens in Malta," Grech said. Actually, I think it would be a blatant lie to say so Mr Grech.
Why is the PN backing the Minister and not keeping silent ????????