The Malta Independent 21 March 2023, Tuesday
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Government announces first ever National Strategy for Palliative Care

Semira Abbas Shalan Thursday, 2 February 2023, 11:56 Last update: about 3 months ago

The government has announced its first ever National Strategy for Palliative Care, which offers increased and specialized care for patients with incurable conditions.

Health Minister Chris Fearne announced the strategy on Thursday, emphasizing that while palliative care is usually associated with patients who have cancer, other conditions which have no cure will also be included. Palliative care focuses on bettering the lives of patients with incurable conditions.


Fearne also announced that as from today, the public consultation process has opened, and will be open for a period of around six weeks. Fearne said that by mid-March, consultations will close, and government hopes to release the document by April or May 2023.

The strategy tackles various circumstances and conditions, and government’s main focus is to push for palliative care to be given to patients in their own home.

The patient, as well as their families, can be reassured that optimal care is given while the patient resides in their own community, Fearne said.

“Patients and families can be reassured that home care will not be any less than hospital care, and multidisciplinary teams of professionals will be trained to give the same care given in hospital in the patient’s home,” he said.

“In each stance of their care, we can make the lives of the patients better,” he said.

Fearne also detailed that palliative care in hospital will still be given, and palliative care units will be increased by 16 more beds in hospital.

He said that the government is working with the Curia, as well as Hospice Malta, to continue expanding on the number of beds available for patients with incurable conditions.

Services currently available for these patients are the Palliative Care Unit at Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre (SAMOC) which includes 16 beds for cancer patients. A pain management clinic for palliative and oncology patients at SAMOC is also available on a once weekly basis by a consultant anaesthetist. 

Government is also working hand in hand with Dar Bjorn, which includes 13 beds for neurological conditions such as ALS. Works are underway on Dar Bjorn II.

Community services by Hospice Malta are also offered, as well as the new St Michael’s Hospice Palliative Care Complex. Some beds are also available in the elderly home of St Vincent de Paul.

Fearne said that government has already contributed €8 million for the building of St Michael’s, and it will double the number of beds in the hospice department. Funds will continue to be given to these services, he said.

He said that the important role of nurse navigators/coordinators will be developed, and professionals will be trained to give palliative care in both hospital and the patient’s home.

Fearne said that the strategy is a complicated one to implement, but it is much more complicated for patients and their families, who need to be reassured on the palliative care they would be receiving.

He said that it is clear that this care must continue to be given in the general halls of hospital and in the community.

“The resources of the country must move forward hand in hand to provide specialized services for patients who have a short period of time left to live,” Fearne said.

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