MAM meets Dr Alfred Sant - on Labour health policy document - 2/6/2006

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Paying for public health services not on the cards - Sant
Cynthia Busuttil

Paying for public health services is not something being considered by the Labour Party, Opposition Leader Alfred Sant said yesterday.

Speaking during a meeting with Medical Association of Malta officials, Dr Sant expressed his opinion that doctors and other health professionals should be the protagonists in finding solutions for problems in the health sector, including the management of the Mater Dei Hospital and the need for more commitment in primary care.

MAM president Stephen Fava stressed that spending money in the health sector was not an expense but an investment. He emphasised that Malta was always lucky to have high-level health professionals, but the sector was plagued with a brain drain problem, with doctors leaving the island, especially because of unfavourable working conditions.

Dr Fava said the majority of problems in the health sector stem from the shortage of doctors.

Things might even get worse since the UK, where most Maltese doctors go when leaving the island, will not recruit doctors from Commonwealth countries as from August. This decision does not apply to Malta since it is also an EU member.

Dr Sant said that despite the shortage of doctors, the level of health care in Malta has remained good but the level of services has declined.

He feared that if more professionals leave the island the level of health care would also be affected.

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