More patients being sent for treatment abroad
More than 300 patients were sent to the UK for treatment last year, at a cost of €1.7 million to the government.
Addressing a news conference this morning, Health Minister Joseph Cassar said the number of patients sent abroad for treatment has been increasing steadily from 279 in 2008 to 314 last year. A total of 261 patients have been sent for treatment abroad so far this year.
Dr Cassar said that an agreement Malta had with the UK allowed the country to send 180 patients for free treatment each year and the rest were paid for by the Maltese government. In return, British nationals who were in Malta and required treatment received it free of charge.
Decisions on treatment abroad are taken by a committee composed of medical experts and a patients’ representative.
The minister explained that patients were usually sent abroad for highly specialised urgent procedures not available in Malta. Over and above this, medical experts and consultants visited Malta from time to time to provide medical services not offered regularly on the island.
The minister noted that at the beginning of next month, a historic agreement with the Italian regions of Lombardy, Sicily and Tuscany comes into force, providing for some Maltese patients to be sent to Italian hospitals for treatment.
Eye patient Bernard Bonnici, who has been to the UK for treatment eight times since December, praised the level of treatment and care he received and pointed out that the Maltese High Commission in London had a team purposely dedicated to helping Maltese patients.