‘Creating taskforces does not solve health sector’s problems’ - Pace

Work practices at the hospital and an overall lack of infrastructure and planning are Malta’s health sector’s worst problems, says MUMN president Paul Pace.

MUMN president Paul Pace
MUMN president Paul Pace

The problem with Malta’s health sector are not the professionals, the doctors or the nurses but the work practices at Mater Dei and an overall lack of infrastructure and planning, according to MUMN president Paul Pace.

Pace has a reputation for being vociferous – a word that he admits truly described him.

In an interview with MaltaToday, Pace argues that solutions are not beyond the capabilities of this or any other government.

“MUMN has been pointing out where the problems are for years. And we have been proved right. The latest scientific report by the World Health Organisation, which came out last week, found that we are short of 500 beds at Mater Dei. When I said exactly the same thing seven years ago, I was told to stop being ridiculous. They said that I was ‘going into politics’. In a word they told me I was being stupid…”

Pace argued that instead of addressing the issue directly, successive administrations have invested their energies in creating committees and taskforces instead.

MUMN ruffled no few feathers by pulling out of the latest such committee… earning criticism (among others by the doctors’ union, MAM) for refusing to be part of the solution. How does he respond to that?

“Under Godfrey [Farrugia] it was a ‘management/union joint committee’,” he recalls. “Under [Joe] Cassar it was a taskforce. Different names, same thing. We didn’t join Cassar’s taskforce; we joined Farrugia’s, but later resigned from it. We don’t want to be part of something that is no solution at all, and that is avoiding the problem.

"Take the bed shortage at Mater Dei, for instance. What did the Cassar taskforce come up with? The ‘bed escalation policy’… this is one of the things we objected to. Do you know what this policy is? When faced with overcrowding, they would choose which corridors of the hospital they will fill with beds. Instead of addressing the issue, they put patients in corridors. But they called it a ‘bed escalation policy’…”

Under Godfrey Farrugia, the same policy was simply given a makeover. “Let’s burst another bubble, shall we? Farrugia recently boasted that he decreased the number of beds in corridors. But what he actually did was camouflage corridors as wards. Instead of corridors they became things like ‘mixed admissions wards 1, 2, etc’. Nice names. You can play with them all you like… but corridors they were, and corridors they remained…”

Read the full interview in MaltaToday

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