Patients at Mater Dei hospital are being forced into “undignified” situations as they wait for beds to free up, the shadow minister for health, Adrian Delia, said on Thursday. 

Speaking at a press conference, he highlighted persistent issues with long waiting lists at the country’s main hospital and warned that a staff shortage and staff burnout were close to leading Malta’s healthcare into a “critical emergency”. 

Delia produced photos from inside Mater Dei showing patients being treated “like a number” with beds crammed into corridors and canteens due to a lack of space in the wards. 

A shortage of beds is also forcing some patients to remain on stretchers until a suitable bed can be found for them, Delia said. 

“We are stripping our patients of all of their dignity," he said. 

The Nationalist Party have said people are being left in crowded corridors. Photo: PNThe Nationalist Party have said people are being left in crowded corridors. Photo: PN

PN MP Stephen Spiteri said that the emergency department in particular was facing huge pressures, with some patients only being seen by a doctor a day after their admission. 

“This is too big of a delay for treatment and reflects inefficiency and a lack of quality in our hospital,” he said. 

“Patients are suffering and workers are burnt out because they are being overburdened. Some people are being seen by a doctor a day after they go to emergency, which in turn delays diagnosis and treatment. On top of that, if you need to be admitted after being seen, you’ll have to wait even longer to get to a bed in a ward.” 

Delia said that the country was suffering the consequences of the government’s lack of investment in healthcare - a consequence of the “world-class fraud” that was spent on the Vitals and Steward deal. 

Showing video footage of a dirty and unkept stairwell, which Delia said was shot from within the emergency department, he added that the upkeep of infrastructure at Mater Dei was also faltering. 

Echoing Bernard Grech’s comments on Wednesday evening, Delia said that the government’s lack of planning and foresight in the healthcare sector was creating a caste of haves and have-nots in healthcare by forcing those who could not wait for an appointment amid long waiting lists to seek private care. 

“This is becoming a social problem because there are people who can resort to private healthcare and others who cannot,” he said. 

“As the Opposition we will continue to fight these injustices and offer immediate and long-term solutions,” Delia continued. 

“We are not going to treat health issues like political football, because where health is concerned, there is no red or blue, only making sure that people are getting the treatment that they deserve,” he said.

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