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Patients won’t pay for out-of-stock medicines

The Prime Minister during a visit to the Oncology Hospital being built at Mater Dei Hospital. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

The Prime Minister during a visit to the Oncology Hospital being built at Mater Dei Hospital. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Patients will not have to pay a cent for out-of-stock medicines because the government will settle the bill directly with pharmacies, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday.

Through this measure, patients whose free medicines were not available from government dispensaries would not have to pay for the drugs they needed.

He was clarifying the Nationalist Party’s electoral pledge to address the problem of out-of-stock medicines, in reaction to the Labour Party’s accusation that patients would not receive full refunds for medicines.

He dismissed claims that this was a U-turn, saying this explanation would clear all doubts on the issue.

The term ‘established price’ in the PN’s electoral manifesto referred to the agreed price the Government already had with pharmaceutical providers and pharmacies.

Dr Gonzi was speaking during a visit to the Oncology Hospital currently being built on the Mater Dei Hospital site.

The new cancer hospital, spread over an area of 6,000 square metres and 24,000 square metres of floor space, is expected to be completed by early next year. It is costing €54 million, with 85 per cent of the cost being covered by EU funds.

Dr Gonzi said the project was on time and below budget, with the savings being used for the purchase of more hospital equipment.

The new hospital consists of three blocks of five storeys each. Work on the building began in 2010 and the construction phase is almost done.

It will replace the Sir Paul Boffa cancer hospital in Floriana, which will be closed down once the new hospital is complete. It will have three linear accelerators, used for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

The building will be environment-friendly, covered with 120,000 square metres of photovoltaic panels for the production of clean energy, which will see savings of 140 tonnes of emissions.

The layout, colours and lighting were all chosen to help patients receiving this difficult treatment. The Oncology Centre will have a total of 96 beds, 74 of which will be for in-patients and 22 beds in the Day Care unit.

Dr Gonzi pointed out that the centre will continue to improve cancer treatment options offered by the government and will be a significant quality leap in health services in Malta.

He said this would complement the National Breast Screening Programme, which began in 2009, and the National Colorectal Screening Programme.

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