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Sunday Times letter by Dr. S. Fava Gozo health service - 26/10/2003

I thank my colleague and friend Dr Mario Saliba for the interest he showed in my article and for highlighting the problems faced by gozitan patients.

MAM is aware of these problems, but I did not delve into them in my original contribution as this was not the subject of my article.

The points mentioned by Dr Saliba undoubtedly cause inconvenience to Gozitan patients. However they do not, strictly speaking constitute “ post code discrimination”, as gozitan patients have access to the same range of services as Maltese patients, even if they have to travel to Malta.

Because of its size, provision of health care in Gozo presents special problems. Gozo general hospital must have the necessary facilities and personnel to provide good emergency service. Elective procedures that are done relatively frequently should also be provided for so as to minimize inconvenience to patients.

This is largely what is happening at present. However, the need will always remain to refer patients to Malta to undergo more specialized procedures or to attend for certain speciality clinics. Because of its small catchment population, it would be impossible to maintain adequate expertise or to have good backup services in some areas of medical care.

MAM agrees with Dr Saliba that having a resident consultant radiologist in Gozo might be useful in sparing patients the inconvenience of traveling to Malta for even the most basic radiological procedures. However, as with the rest of our national health service, we might have problems in recruiting such medical personnel.

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