Press Releases

MAM on closure of health centres - 4/12/2003


The Medical Association would like to respond to various public statements regards the Floriana and Gzira Health centres.

The Facts

According to MAM information, the number of patients attending these two health centres at night is around 50per night on average. However in peak periods this can be up to 100 patients per night. The case mix may vary from the very minor to life threatening problems, however most cases are uncomplicated General practice patients. The department of Primary Health care should make public the daily data in this respect, rather than supply isolated data which end up giving the wrong impression to the general public.

Cost Effectiveness.

The Association agrees that deployment of staff should be rational and proportional to the load of cases attending. Indeed doctors have had to put up with a shortage of medical staff for a very long time and have kept the service running despite these staff shortages. Doctors continue to provide a full service despite the shortage of around 40 doctors.

One must also bear in mind, that when catering for an emergency services one has to cater for the worst possible scenario, and not for the minimum or the average. This is necessary to make sure that when such peaks occur, as for example in the influenza period, the system would not collapse and that it remains safe for the patient. Furthermore, in the interest of patient safety, one cannot simply consider the number of patients at night. There has to be enough doctors to cater for say 2 emergencies that happen to present simultaneously.

The effects of closure of both centres at night (Floriana and Gzira)

Government spokesman have rightly commented that the impact of closure of various Health Centres is being studied before a definitive decision is taken.. For example, MAM strongly fears that closure of both the Floriana and Gzira Health Centres would increase the load on the accident and Emergency & Accident Department. The E & A is already overloaded with many General practice cases which dramatically increase waiting times to the detriment of more serious cases. Indeed on a busy night an additional 100 cases which would have normally been handled by the health centres are likely to collapse the system, and compromise patient safety.

MAM therefore looks forward to discussions with the authorities before any measure is implemented so as to ensure optimal cost effectiveness whilst maintaining the highest patient safety possible. Furthermore the MAM is suggesting that the government takes effective action to try to reduce the large number of cases unnecessarily attending the casualty department when these should really be dealt with

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