Investment in medical human resources needed - 1/11/2006

link to The Times

link to orginal letter by prof Muscat

Investment in medical human resources needed
Martin Balzan, General secretary, Medical Association of Malta, Gzira.

May I assure Joseph Muscat (Brain Drain All In The Mind, October 25) that the thousands of patients on the surgical waiting lists and the long waits for most emergency services are definitely real problems. Nothing imaginary here, but a medical service which is becoming severely undermanned.

For this reason it is a matter of great concern that 96 (72 per cent) of 133 hospital doctors who registered between 1997 and 2001 have left the country. To date only 11 (8.2 per cent) have returned.

Reference to the colonial years of 1942 is not relevant to the current realities. Many European experts made available through EU funds have praised the quality of the local medical service, but also pointed out the excellent opportunities for post-graduate training in a central and busy university hospital. Undoubtedly tribute to the current high standards must be given to elderly pioneers such as Prof. Muscat.

It is indeed a great pity that to date insufficient resources and indeed funds have been committed to support post-graduate training. Unfortunately even doctors wishing to pursue a local career are having to leave the country, with the result that there are insufficient numbers to man the emergency services.

It is for this reason that MAM expressed its disappointment with this year's budget, where tens of millions were once again committed to construction and virtually nothing to the development of essential human resources. The current problems affecting the medical service can only be resolved if enough specialised doctors can be trained and retained by the country.

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