MAM response to Comments on Health Centre Doctors - 5/9/2007

link Article 02 in The Times

Health centre doctors
Martin Balzan, general secretary, Medical Association of Malta, Gzira.

I refer to the interview by Health Minister Louis Deguara in the Business section of August 30. MAM is largely in agreement with the minister's statements, however, the association feels that comments on health centre doctors need to be clarified.

The truth is that 85 per cent of the Maltese population at some time or another visit the health centres, while acute general practice calls after 8 p.m. are virtually all served by health centre doctors.

While a significant proportion of acute calls are handled from the health centres, only a small percentage is referred to the accident and emergency usually for tests which cannot be done at the health centre. This cannot in any way be construed as shedding doubt on the competence of the individual health centre doctors.

However, as Minister Deguara states, there are a significant number of patients who turn up at the accident and emergency when they could be easily dealt with by the private family doctor or the health centre medical staff.

This misuse of essential services can only be discouraged by educational campaigns or administrative measures, and has nothing to do with the competence of doctors at health centres.

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