Nurses’ union wants new 500-bed hospital
The nurses’ union has fleshed out its calls for more hospital beds and called for a post-election government to start planning to build a 500-bed hospital for acute care.
The 500 hypothetical beds would complement the 825 beds at Mater Dei Hospital, which the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses has repeatedly insisted is too small for Malta’s needs.
That claim had previously been rejected by Health Minister Joe Cassar, who has said that Mater Dei was deemed big enough by consultants from Johns Hopkins University.
MUMN’s call for a new hospital was the most eye-catching point in a 13-point list of proposals it made to political parties yesterday.
And according to the union, the 500 hospital beds will need to be buttressed by a further 500 beds for the elderly in residential hospitals over the next five years.
The union also wants greater emphasis to be placed on patient rights, with an independent body tasked with investigating complaints and patients being afforded freer access to their own medical records and to a second medical opinion. The MUMN’s proposals suggest staggering outpatients’ appointments and introducing quotas on the number of patients consultants see on any given day.
They also call for waiting lists for elective surgeries to be managed by a central office, rather than left up to individual consultants’ diaries. This, the MUMN suggested, would cut down on waiting times and stop consultants from bumping frequent private clients up their waiting lists.
Some parts of the proposal document are unlikely to go down well with the Health Ministry.
“The development of health centres was literally nonexistent” in this legislature, the document argues, before going on to suggest all health centres should remain open and offer a GP service.
MUMN’s document also criticises the government’s Pharmacy of Your Choice scheme – through which patients who are entitled to free medicine can collect it at their local pharmacy – and lambasts it for encouraging medicine hoarding and drug wastage.
Private doctors and GPs should be empowered to modify or stop medical treatment freely available to patients, the MUMN has proposed.
Currently, only consultants can alter such prescriptions.
Moreover, according to the union, further infrastructural investment is needed at Mount Carmel hospital to be accompanied by “drastic changes” in the entire system of community mental care.
The MUMN document also suggests modifying the tendering process for government purchases of medicines as well as bringing Gozitan health services within the Health Ministry’s remit, rather than the Gozo ministry as was presently the case.
Questions sent to the Health Ministry seeking a reaction to the MUMN’s proposals remained unanswered at the time of writing.