From Opposition to alternative government
This year the PN has presented its own pre-budget document once again.
Claudette Buttigieg is a PN MP – email@example.com, 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