Energy minister brings ‘managerial expertise’ to new health portfolio

Bed shortages, out-of-stock medicine, waiting lists, emergency department and primary healthcare remain the priorities of any succeeding health minister.

New minister for health Konrad Mizzi
New minister for health Konrad Mizzi

Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi will bring his “managerial expertise” to the health sector and believes that with his expertise – coupled with Chris Fearne’s medical background - tangible results can be obtained.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat assigned Mizzi the health portfolio and appointed backbencher Chris Fearne as the parliamentary secretary for health.

“I am confident because I will be working with an expert. We cannot underestimate the challenges ahead but we have a clear political direction where we want to go,” Mizzi said.

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The minister and his parliamentary secretary have already reportedly discussed briefly the matter and will be meeting this afternoon for a more in-depth discussion.

The two are set to start agreeing on priorities for tangible improvement – both in the immediate and longer term.

Like any other health minister, Konrad Mizzi’s priorities for the sector are easily guessed: bed shortages, out-of-stock medicine, waiting lists, the emergency department at Mater Dei and primary healthcare.

So what will be different this time round?

Refraining from opening up on any possible agreements signed with St Philip’s Hospital or how St Luke’s will be utilised, when asked by MaltaToday, Mizzi said he looked forward to start working with Fearne to set their priorities for their first year.

“Our priority is to work with stakeholders: doctors, nurses, care workers, consultants, midwives and so forth… this is the most important thing of all,” he said, adding that all health workers worked hard and had hard working conditions.

The new health minister plans to use his management expertise to come up with “more creative ways” on how to solve the issue of bed shortage. The first topic on the agenda with Fearne is set to be out-of-stock medicines.

But what for Mizzi deemed to be the most “unacceptable” was the list of patients admitted at Mater Dei who were placed in the hospital’s corridors.

“Last night I asked for the list of patients and I couldn’t stop thinking about it… the situation is unacceptable,” he said.

During the electoral campaign, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had pledged that energy will always be given a priority under his government and not hidden within some “super-ministry”. The Labour Opposition used to highly criticise former Nationalist PM Lawrence Gonzi’s choice of giving then finance minister Tonio Fenech a super-ministry, for the reason that one sector or another would not enjoy a minister’s full attention.

But Konrad Mizzi played down suggestions that the energy sector will lose its priority as the attention shifts to health. Reiterating the importance of Chris Fearne’s involvement, Mizzi argued that although health and energy were different sectors, they faced “similar challenges”.

“Both sectors had very strong human resources and very good technical people. But they both shared a prehistoric management system,” he said, adding that his role will be to create an effective management system.

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