The so-called Patient Charter – another distraction
Labour’s strategy is now clear to everyone. Joseph Muscat and his cronies praise good governance and transparency while undermining both.
Claudette Buttigieg is a PN MP – firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter: @ButClaudette
25 November 1963
They have entered deals which have important details hidden from public view – but their underhanded schemes have lots of glittery window dressing. When some of the suspect details are discovered, Labour creates a diversion and points to the window dressing, which makes the deal sound like the best one ever. Health is a classic example. Health minister Chris Fearne has been trying hard to depict himself as the clean minister who inherited a shady deal on the privatisation of three hospitals. Unfortunately for him, the Opposition and the media simply won’t let go.
Things got more uncomfortable for Fearne when he found out that expired medicine had been administered to three patients in the ITU – under his ministerial watch. To come clean, he issued a press release, stating that an investigation was under way. Unfortunately, yet again, this didn’t work either. Once more, the Opposition and the media had a field day.
Fearne needed something to deviate attention. A reason to make him look good and clean. So he first tried to say that administering expired medicines was “normal” procedure. But since Fearne himself had instituted an investigation, the “normality” of administering expired medicine to ITU patients didn’t persuade anyone.
Then Labour strategists dug (not so deep) into their bag of tricks. They remembered the Patient Charter. A document which was launched for public consultation earlier this year and which was not part of the government’s plans for implementation, either this year or next.
In fact, it wasn’t even mentioned in the Budget documents. So much so, I criticised its absence in Parliament a few weeks ago.
It must also be said that when Fearne launched the document for discussion I had praised both the concept and most of the obligations and rights listed in the Charter. But I had also stated then, and I reiterate it now, that since this Charter is not supported by law, then it has no bite.
In other words, this Patient Charter is NOT legally binding. Unfortunately, this detail has not been picked up yet by the media.
This simply means that if, for example, on page 17, paragraph 5 of the Patient Charter, under the heading ‘Safety’, we find that one has the responsibility “Not to take any medication that is expired …”, how does this translate itself legally when the expired medicine is given to an ITU patient unknowingly?
And what of the right “to access health services and treatments that meet safety standards”?
It is very telling that the last section of the Patient Charter (‘Comments and Complaints’) simply encourages patients and their “significant others or carers” to “provide feedback, comments and raise concerns.”
Does Fearne expect us to take him seriously?
Is the minister telling us that we have rights, which have been broken, but we actually have no way of redressing them?
Oh yes, hold on … the document states that we can “provide both positive and negative feedback … through the appropriate channels.”
Who do you think you’re fooling minister?
Patients have been given expired medicine without their consent or that of their significant others or of their carers… but these people are expected to give “feedback” through unspecified “channels.”
A Charter either grants rights that are enforceable – or it is not a real charter at all.
Chris Fearne’s Patient Charter is a scam by a government that specialises in scams. It is pure lip service which will create even more frustration in service users and their families. It is glittery window-dressing.
It is a distraction for the dodgy hospital contracts with Vitals Global Healthcare and the grave scandal about the expired medicines in our hospitals.
The Malta Independent Friday 25 November 2016