From Op­po­si­tion to al­ter­na­tive govern­ment

This year the PN has pre­sented its own pre-bud­get doc­u­ment once again.

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Claudette But­tigieg is a PN MP – cbut­, twit­ter: @ButClaudette

The doc­u­ment was dis­cussed with the so­cial part­ners and pub­lished for gen­eral in­ter­est. ‘Let’s all suc­ceed to­gether’ is an hon­est over­view of the cur­rent, real sit­u­a­tion in our coun­try. In it, the PN presents 91 con­crete pro­pos­als which Muscat and his govern­ment may choose to take on board or to­tally ig­nore.

Know­ing the ar­ro­gance which pre­vails in the in­ner cir­cle of Muscat’s govern­ment, this doc­u­ment will prob­a­bly be sneered at, although you can­not dis­count that the Machi­avel­lian Muscat might also be tempted to steal some ideas and make them his own. That is a risk the PN is choos­ing to take for the sec­ond year in a row but we are do­ing it for the com­mon good of our coun­try.

The section on health starts off by putting Malta in Euro­pean con­text, graph­i­cally com­par­ing our coun­try with much big­ger economies but with chal­lenges sim­i­lar to ours.

Malta places 23rd out of 35 coun­tries in the Euro Health Con­sumer In­dex 2015. That con­firms a down­ward slide over the past three years. It has gone down from 17th place (in 2013) to the 22nd place (last year) in the spend­ing per capita on health­care. Of course, when it comes to statis­tics, the devil is al­ways in the de­tail.

The re­port on wait­ing lists puts Malta among the av­er­age coun­tries when com­pared with other Euro­pean states. But the re­al­ity on the ground is what it is. We all know that the num­ber of pa­tients wait­ing for ap­point­ments in the Out­pa­tients depart­ment has grown dra­mat­i­cally. The bot­tle­neck has shifted from surgery to out­pa­tients.

Sadly, we have heard of can­cer pa­tients who were given a to­tally un­ac­cept­able ap­point­ment for six months later.

When the Health Min­is­ter, Chris Fearne, launched the pub­lic dis­cus­sion on the much needed Pa­tient’s Rights Char­ter, I praised him pub­licly for this ini­tia­tive. But I soon re­alised that this was just an act to over­come one of the short­falls high­lighted in the Euro Health Con­sumer In­dex 2015. The Pa­tient’s Rights Char­ter lacks the leg­isla­tive sup­port to en­force the points made in the doc­u­ment. It clearly shows the govern­ment’s lack of will to turn this doc­u­ment into a law.

The PN doc­u­ment presents in­ter­est­ing pro­pos­als which in­clude the pub­li­ca­tion of the agree­ment with Vi­tals Global Health­care. It also cov­ers less con­tro­ver­sial mat­ters which are not be­ing ad­dressed, like hu­man re­sources, chronic con­di­tions, com­mu­nity ser­vices, pri­mary care, men­tal health and pre­ven­tive mea­sures which lead to a health­ier life­style.

A par­tic­u­lar pro­posal, which I feel de­serves to be high­lighted, is our ap­peal to ex­pand so­cial di­a­logue, par­tic­u­larly with NGOs ad­vo­cat­ing for pa­tients who suf­fer from par­tic­u­lar con­di­tions. Let’s face it, all the govern­ment’s talk about pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion is no longer cred­i­ble.

It has be­come very clear now that dis­cus­sions are staged. When things get un­com­fort­able, emer­gency ex­its come in very handy.

This is not just dis­re­spect­ful to­wards the peo­ple who are ded­i­cat­ing their very ex­is­tence to­wards the cause they have been work­ing on for years; it is sim­ply wrong. How can any politi­cian take on the task of leg­is­lat­ing in ar­eas with­out the in­put of all the stake­hold­ers?

In my own per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, there is at least one im­por­tant ad­van­tage to not be­ing a health­care pro­fes­sional while work­ing in the po­lit­i­cal field of health. I feel the need to meet NGOs, unions and as­so­ci­a­tions be­cause I truly be­lieve in their ex­per­tise and their wish to make things bet­ter.

It is then my job to mould their ideas into con­crete pro­pos­als that will hope­fully bring con­sen­sus. Of course this is a much length­ier process than that of tak­ing the de­ci­sions in iso­la­tion, which may be bi­ased or overly in­flu­enced by my col­leagues in the pro­fes­sion.

By work­ing to­gether we can all suc­ceed to­gether. This is our goal.

The Malta In­de­pen­dent Friday 14 Oc­to­ber 2016

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