Labour would set maximum waiting times for operations - Muscat
A Labour government would introduce a health charter that would set maximum waiting times for operations and allow patients to receive treatment in private hospitals at the government’s expense if these targets were not kept, Labour leader Joseph Muscat said this morning.
Addressing a news conference outside Mater Dei Hospital, Dr Muscat said this measure, which he expected to be in place within a year, was in anticipation of the EU cross-border directive, which would allow patients to seek treatment they could not obtain in their country in other EU states.
The PL, he said, would also introduce a system for delivering medicine to elderly over 70, the severely disabled and people who were immobile to their homes. The medicines would be delivered by professionals, such as retired nurses.
A Labour government would increase primary health care expenditure by €8 million, it would modernise and expand health centres and open new ones in areas such as Zurrieq.
The PL would also spend €1 million more on Gozo General Hospital and would modernise the procurement of the free medicines system.
Dr Muscat criticised the government’s proposal for people entitled to free medicine to get this from the private sector against a refund when it was out of stock.
The government, he said, was deceiving the people because it was not telling them it would only be giving them the wholesale, and not the retail, price. Moreover, it did not create an incentive for the government to keep medicine in stock.
Asked if a new Labour government would build another hospital, Dr Muscat said that although it was a fact that there was lack of space at Mater Dei, Labour was not looking to create another building site.
Asked about St Philip’s he said that Labour did not have any agreement with anyone and he had not spoken to hospital owner Frank Portelli in six months. However, he was not excluding a deal with him or with anyone else.
The PL’s priorities were different to the government’s so, if elected, it would see what was on the table and work from there.
Labour’s proposals, he said, would come into play in the budget for next year.