Minister Deguara - speech on Post graduate training - 3/5/2007

link to DO1

OPENING Address by The Hon. Louis Deguara, Minister of Health, the Elderly and Community Care, at the seminar on ‘ESF 8 – Retention of Specialists through the Development of Specialist Training in Malta’ – st julian’s – 2nd may 2007

Distinguished guests, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you this morning to officially close the project that sought to kick start the development of specialist training here in Malta. This project was mainly funded through the EU Structural Funds with the Ministry of Health, the Elderly and Community Care as a co-funder.

It is pertinent to remind ourselves that EU accession has provided a host of opportunities for doctors who wish to go abroad for specialist training. One of the impacts we have witnessed is that doctors are now leaving earlier in their careers, practically upon graduating. While this has of course created opportunities for the individuals concerned, this phenomenon has made the development of structured post-graduate training an urgent issue which we all agree needs to be tackled appropriately.

The opening of Mater Dei hospital with its state of the art facilities will provide an impetus to launch the implementation of structured specialist training. Our vision is to create in Mater Dei a centre of excellence for specialist training of doctors not only for Malta but for the Mediterranean. I am sure that by pursuing the correct strategy and with all the stakeholders working together as a team, this vision can be made a reality. The building and equipping phase of Mater Dei is now almost complete. The time is ripe therefore to apply our energies to the development of systems that will make Mater Dei, the teaching and research hospital we all want it to become.

I do not for a moment wish to give the impression that we have to build from scratch. Indeed the experience we have gone through over the past three years in ensuring the “grandfathering” of all existing specialists has highlighted the significant amount of teaching and training that has been conducted locally in the past years. What we need to do now is to create the necessary structures and systems to ensure accountability, transparency, a clear pathway for trainees and dedicated time for training.

Here I wish to take the opportunity to thank the specialist associations for all the work that has been carried out to accredit the existing specialists. I am aware that a number of associations have also developed their training programmes and are fully geared to start.

In this respect I believe that the ESF project which we are here to officially close today has more than met its objectives. It has not only, I am informed, greatly exceeded its expected outputs but has also had the wider impact of creating a sense of accomplishment in those innovative associations that have come forward to take up the opportunities that have been offered. The instilment of this sense of confidence that we have the necessary expertise and know-how to be able to create the specialist training programmes is very important.

Of course I am totally in favour of the approach that seeks to combine local expertise with input from overseas. Visiting lecturers and occasional peer review for accreditation of the programmes will be important mechanisms to ensure quality and sustainability of specialist training locally. Short to medium term attachments in centres of excellence overseas will also form part of our strategy and new approach to specialist training.

I would like to sincerely thank all those who have made this project possible, the project leader, Ministry officials who provided direction and support and all those individual within the specialist associations who came forward and enthusiastically embraced the opportunities that were offered.

Today provides an opportunity to look back with a sense of achievement and look forward with a sense of determination. I augur that the presentations in this seminar will provide a stimulus for an exchange of views that will clearly outline the lessons learnt from this pilot project and provide guidance for a road map that will lead to the development of quality, sustainable structured specialist training.

DOI – 02.05.2007

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