Updated - Labour to raise spending on health centres by €8m
Updated - Adds secretariat's reaction -- A Labour government would increase spending on health centre by €8 million in order to improve their infrastructure and services, Labour leader Joseph Muscat said this morning.
Speaking outside Paola health centre, Dr Muscat said a Labour government would hold talks with the private sector on a possible collaboration for the opening of a health centre in the Zurrieq-Kirkop area.
He said Labour would introduce a medicines home delivery service for the infirm and those aged over 70 at a total government cost of some €500,000.
Labour would also be committed to reducing waiting lists, with priority being given to appointments for examinations relating to possible cancer.
The breast-screening service would be extended to more women, and talks would be held on the possibility of screening for osteoporosis at the same time as the breast examination.
Dr Muscat said a Labour government would ensure that the Mental Health Bill became law as soon as possible.With regard to the waiting list for operations, he said that surgeons would be encouraged to use the Mater Dei Operating theatres after hours to raise the utilisation rate and cut down on waiting lists. Referring to Dr Gonzi's comments yesterday after contractors being close to the PL, Dr Muscat said that was a bit rich from a political leader who, he said, had accepted a €350,000 donation from a contractor.
HEALTH MINISTER SAYS SERVICES ALREADY EXIST
Health Joe Cassar this afternoon said both a Mental Health Act and free home delivery of Minister medicines were already in place. A Mental Health Act had been passed by parliament last December, with Dr Muscat himself voting in favour of it, Dr Cassar said.
The Home Help programme run by the Secretariat for the elderly and community care also involved carers picking medicines up for their patients, Dr Cassar said.
"Has Dr Muscat done his homework? The service already exists," he said.
Asked on what basis people could sign up to the Home Help programme, Dr Cassar said acceptance was subject to assessment by social workers. He did not specify what made a person eligible.
Dr Cassar also said the PL's osteoporosis screening plans were the result of misinformed leak.
"We're in the final stages of consultation to introduce osteoporosis screening practices in line with UK guidelines, with family doctors charged with keeping tabs and referring patients for a bone screen if they need it," Dr Cassar said.
"I imagine someone leaked the information to Dr Muscat but got it backwards. The optimal age for osteoporosis screening is not the same as that of breast cancer, as the PL is suggesting."