The Malta Independent 20 August 2019, Tuesday

Children ‘exposed to sexual abuse’ at mental hospital; ministry reacts

Malta Independent Thursday, 12 September 2013, 16:34 Last update: about 6 years ago

Children aged 16 or less are being placed with adults in certain wards at Mount Carmel Hospital and are exposed to sexual abuse and even to physical violence, the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses said.

What angers MUMN is seeing the current health minister juggling and more concerned with proposing extravagant projects such as the “planning” of building new mental hospital, but then is totally in denial of the current situation at Mt. Carmel where drug addicts, children and patients suffering from various mental diseases are literally being kept in the same wards. The MUMN also complained about a "huge shortage of beds for drugs addicts at the same hospital".

It would be better for the current minister to follow the footsteps of his colleague Manwel Mallia (minister responsible for prisons) and start refurbishing and add new wings at the hospital. The building of such new wings was suspended under the present administration to the detriment of the nurses and the patients due to financial reasons. So on one note the health minister has no money for the refurbishment of Mt. Carmel Hospital; then on the other hand he intends to build a new hospital.

The situation at Mt. Carmel Hospital cannot remain hidden from the public. MUMN intends to start issuing regular press releases when nurses and patients are in danger due to lack of political commitment. It is a great pity that the health minister did not set up office at Mt. Carmel Hospital as he had done at Mater Dei Hospital, the MUMN said.

Ministry replies

As soon as the MUMN published their press statement alleging that “minors are being exposed to sexual and physical abuse”, the Ministry for Health reported this allegation to the Commissioner for Mental Health, so that the Commissioner investigates these allegations and make the management of Mount Carmel Hospital take the necessary and appropriate steps so as to safe guard the health and safety of this vulnerable group.

In a statement, the ministry said the implementation of a National Health Strategy for Children and Adolescents has been discussed with the Chair of Paediatrics for Malta and Gozo, with particular reference to acute paediatric emergency facilities, primary care outreach centres, and children and adolescents with Challenging Behaviour.

The Ministry for Health has partnered with the Ministry for Education and Employment and the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity, and set up a core group of four experts to draw up a holistic approach in the speciality of children and adolescents with challenging behaviour, to intervene at the earliest, in the best interest of their health, education and welfare.

Children and adolescents with challenging behaviour are cared for by the Ministry for Health under the facilities of the Child Development Assistance Unit (CDAU) and the Young People’s Unit (YPU).

The concern expressed by the MUMN refers to the YPU, where children and adolescents are kept under a care order.

The Minister for Health has already met personally these children and adolescents and their health care multi-disciplinary team professionals, on two separate occasions in these last two months.

Moreover, further to this, the Ministry for Health has embarked on a project, headed by Prof. Angela Abela (Head of Department, Department of Family Studies, Faculty of Social Wellbeing at the University of Malta), on a proposed project which will be submitted for EU funding and which will see the construction of new adequate facilities for these specific niche of health care. This will ensure that the children and adolescents will not be stigmatised by having a premises at Mount Carmel Hospital, and will further strengthen to maximise the benefits and wellbeing of these individuals, by ensuring that they are given the best therapy possible for a better quality of life.

From a psychiatric point of view, an action team has drawn up a comprehensive plan that includes the further training of professional health care providers within a framework of a multi-disciplinary team and also out patients’ facilities.

Ministry replies

As soon as the MUMN published their press statement alleging that “minors are being exposed to sexual and physical abuse”, the Ministry for Health reported this allegation to the Commissioner for Mental Health, so that the Commissioner investigates these allegations and make the management of Mount Carmel Hospital take the necessary and appropriate steps so as to safe guard the health and safety of this vulnerable group.

In a statement, the ministry said the implementation of a National Health Strategy for Children and Adolescents has been discussed with the Chair of Paediatrics for Malta and Gozo, with particular reference to acute paediatric emergency facilities, primary care outreach centres, and children and adolescents with Challenging Behaviour.

The Ministry for Health has partnered with the Ministry for Education and Employment and the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity, and set up a core group of four experts to draw up a holistic approach in the speciality of children and adolescents with challenging behaviour, to intervene at the earliest, in the best interest of their health, education and welfare.

Children and adolescents with challenging behaviour are cared for by the Ministry for Health under the facilities of the Child Development Assistance Unit (CDAU) and the Young People’s Unit (YPU).

The concern expressed by the MUMN refers to the YPU, where children and adolescents are kept under a care order.

The Minister for Health has already met personally these children and adolescents and their health care multi-disciplinary team professionals, on two separate occasions in these last two months.

Moreover, further to this, the Ministry for Health has embarked on a project, headed by Prof. Angela Abela (Head of Department, Department of Family Studies, Faculty of Social Wellbeing at the University of Malta), on a proposed project which will be submitted for EU funding and which will see the construction of new adequate facilities for these specific niche of health care. This will ensure that the children and adolescents will not be stigmatised by having a premises at Mount Carmel Hospital, and will further strengthen to maximise the benefits and wellbeing of these individuals, by ensuring that they are given the best therapy possible for a better quality of life.

From a psychiatric point of view, an action team has drawn up a comprehensive plan that includes the further training of professional health care providers within a framework of a multi-disciplinary team and also out patients’ facilities.

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