The Malta Independent 19 November 2018, Monday

New outpatients block; five storeys of underground parking to be built at Mater Dei

Albert Galea Monday, 29 October 2018, 14:26 Last update: about 20 days ago

A new outpatient's block with five storeys of underground parking will be built at Mater Dei Hospital, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne announced during a press conference at the hospital on Monday.

The plans along with the medical brief for this project have already been completed, Fearne said, and discussions are currently ongoing with the Planning Authority so that a tender can be released. The new block will cost something in the region of €160 million and is expected to take four and a half years to complete.

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The current outpatients department within Mater Dei Hospital will be changed to hold more wards and beds, hence creating a more efficient and spacious hospital for patients, Fearne explained.

The total budget for the health sector in the upcoming year, Fearne said, will be of €685.8 million, €75 million more than that of 2018.  Fearne said that this was almost double that which the PN had spent in 2012 when they were last in government, and was clear evidence of the government's commitment to the health sector.

2019, Fearne said, will also see work for the preparation of a long term strategic plan for the health sector which will cater for the period between 2020 and 2030.

In the press conference, Fearne summarised numerous measures that the recently announced Budget will be implementing in the health sector over the coming year.

One of the main sections of focus is that mental health department, which will see a new mental health clinic being built and the continuation of the five-year refurbishment programme taking place at Mount Carmel Hospital.  That latter programme is in its second year, and is expected to cost €30 million. 

Fearne said that there will also be a push to prevent mental health illness occurring, with a call for interest for NGOs to work with adolescents who may be susceptible to such problems, and with the same call for interest being expanded to unions to offer such mental health services on the workplace as well.  Investment in schooling will also continue, and students at MCAST will - like those at University - be soon able to take advantage of a mental wellness centre as well.

Meanwhile a system of remote patient monitoring will also be launched as a pilot project to cater for persons with chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular problems or diabetes.  Previously, these patients were treated through the outpatient's services, Fearne said, with appointments being months apart.  This monitoring system would be installed at patient's homes for free and would provide data such as blood pressure and sugar levels continuously which specialists could use to provide a change of treatment if it is deemed necessary.

A tender for the setting up of an electronic patient recording system will also be released, which would mean that data is all at the disposal of patients and doctors wherever they may be, including homes of patients in the case of house visits.  A third MRI meanwhile will also be added to complement the two in operation and build upon the 27,000 MRIs carried out this year.

A system of robotic surgery will also be introduced in the coming year which would mean that more types of operations can be carried out at Mater Dei, whilst robots will also soon be involved in pharmacies too where they would digitally fulfil patient's orders.

Other investments include a new course of a few months for all employees in non-clinical skills, and new sectoral agreements as well.  More medicines will also be added, including medication related to cancer, prostates, and HIV. Fearne said that the Budget will see that the required funds for more clinical research are available, whilst more funds will be made available for IVFs and Transgender healthcare as well. 

Photos by Alenka Falzon

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