Update 2: Government needs to tackle hospital bed shortage problem - PL
(Adds government statement)
The bed shortage at Mater Dei is putting the hospital in the worst situation possible, PL spokesman Marie-Louise Coleiro-Preca said.
She said in a statement that people needing care were being kept in corridors on stretchers or sofas for days. People in grievous or serious conditions were being kept waiting for hours and without a bed in a room where they could be given proper care for days.
It was shameful that after all the people's investment in the project they could not have their mind at rest that they would get suitable and dignified should they need it.
Such hardship was not being suffered just by patients but also by the staff. The situation could not continue with the government adopting temporary measures to solve the problem.
The government should be honest and stop blaming the elderly, who it referred to as social cases.
OPPOSITION LACKS VISION - GOVERNMENT
In a reply to Mrs Coleiro-Preca, the government said it was clear that the Opposition did not have a vision for the health sector.
The Opposition ignored the realities of the sector including the increase in services and the advances made because of the care being given.
These advances were leading to an increase in the average age of Maltese and Gozitans and the government was responding to this by strengthening services and taking concrete initiatives.
The ministry said that an average of 300 people were admitted to the Emergency Department daily with an average 66 of them requiring treatment in hospital. A substantial number could be easily served in health centres or by family doctors.
Although these people were still treated at the department, priority was given to people who needed more immediate attention because of the nature of their illness or incident.
Several initiatives were taken at the department recently for the people to get a quicker service. The number of consultants was doubled to seven, another 20 beds were added for people who needed to be kept under observation and these were to be increased by another 16 shortly.
Better use was being made of resources in hospital to maximise potential with, among other initiatives, the creation of a discharge lounge, investment in community care, contractual arrangements with private entities and an increase in beds at homes for the elderly.
In a statement this afternoon, the Emergency Nurses' Union expressed support for a letter to the health minister by 60 nurses at the department, complaining that conditions at the department were still unacceptable.
The letter was given to the minister at the end of a course in pre-hospital care.
The ENU called on the government to give the department the required attention for the benefit of both patients and nurses.