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Prof. Mario Vassallo’s study. Justice done with hard working doctors - 5/9/2003

Prof. Mario Vassallo’s study.
Justice done with hard working doctors – an eye opener for everybody.

The Medical Association of Malta welcomes the results of the survey conducted by Prof. Mario Vassallo for the Sunday Times. The fact that 84% of patients using St. Luke’s Hospital and 77% of patients using the Health Centres declared themselves satisfied with the service reflects very well on the quality of the service given by the medical profession. It comes as no surprise that 78% and 73% of the population use the hospital and health centres respectively. The service is utilized and appreciated across all social classes.

One also has to consider that there is a shortage of doctors in the hospitals and in health centres (up to 50%). Despite this, the medical profession is giving the Maltese society both quantity and quality. Indeed Prof. Vassallo’s study, confirms the high turnover data from Casualty (110,000 per year), Outpatients services (circa 400,000 per year), operations (30,000 per year) and health centre visits (over 1.1 million per year.)

In this context it is clear that whoever tried to smear the medical profession by giving the impression that doctors were unproductive, and were not contributing sufficiently to the public health service, was completely wrong. Doctors who give this service despite being understaffed and underpaid have been vindicated by the results of Prof. Vassallo’s study which have finally made justice with them on this issue.

As regards to the price of private medicine, surely general practitioner visits at 2-3 liri and specialist visits at 12-15 liri per visit cannot be labeled as expensive. Private hospitals have to put up with the same financial problems the government is facing. Indeed it is difficult to perceive how private medicine can be made any cheaper.

Perhaps it is high time that the government makes its citizens aware on how high the costs of health care are. The 100 million spent so far on the new hospital and 66million per year spent on health care should be an eye opener for one and all. It might also be worth considering for the government to give financial incentives for people to opt to use private medicine. This will help decrease the cost of private medicine, reduce waiting lists and overcrowding in the public health sector and reduce government expenditure.

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