[WATCH] Two additional hospital wards by November, new bed management practices

€11.5 million medical admission units to hold 68 beds • A&E department to have hospitality lounge and observation area

Mater Dei to introduce new bed management structure

An €11.5 million medical admission units project adjacent to Mater Dei’s accident and emergency department will start receiving patients by the second week of November.

Health Minister Konrad Mizzi, parliamentary secretary Chris Fearne and junior minister Ian Borg on Saturday morning visited the finalization of works of two new wards, built in less than 10 months.

The project, to hold 68 beds, was co-financed by the EU.

The admissions wards will operate on a short-stay basis: patients admitted to the MAU2 and MAU3 will remain for 48 hours following which they will be discharged or transferred to other wards according to the needs of the patients.

An improved hospital service and increased bed space also required a change in management practices, the health minister explained.

“The government’s plan is to increase 500 beds across the whole health estate, 300 of which will be at Mater Dei Hospital,” Mizzi said, adding that further bed expansion includes Karin Grech Hospital, the Gozo General Hospital, the development of a new Palliative Care Unit and other areas.

“It is also important to change management practices. The new bed management process will allow for a better admissions and discharge system. The Emergency department will have an observation area, whereby a patient would be under observation as doctors decide whether the patient is ready for discharge or should be kept at the hospital.”

Mizzi said that the MAU would be purely an admissions unit and patients in this ward would not spend more than 48 hours there.

“A hospitality lounge will be opened early next year, allowing patients to wait for a discharge letter or medicines in a more comfortable environment rather than next to a bed,” he said.  The hospitality lounge would be another way by which beds can be freed up.

Mizzi and Fearne said criticism of patients in corridors was “justified”.

“It is undignified for the patient and uncomfortable for those taking care of them. The government is working tirelessly to increase bed space and changing processes,” Mizzi said.

Fearne said that the government ethos was to provide a service of quality, which was accessible and sustainable. “We want to create a five-star hospital but this won’t be possible until the environment is improved. The delivery of service remains excellent but more needs to be done to improve the environment.”

Fearne added that the government was also investing in human resources.

Most of the project costs - €9 million – were funded by the European Union. Ian Borg said it had been a challenge for the administration to secure the funds and complete the project before the end of year. The funds would have been lost if the government missed the deadline.

The original plan included the construction of these two wards above the A&E department. But following claims of weak concrete used in the original construction of the hospital and the inquiry launched saw a change of plans, whereby the two wards were built adjacent to the department.

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