The government is planning to phase out Mount Carmel Hospital as Malta’s mental health facility, with Health Minister JoEtienne Abela saying on Tuesday that the 19th-century building is not fit for purpose. 

He said every government in history has some blame to shoulder for not investing in the mental health infrastructure, which has led to this reality. 

“The time to blame each other (PL and PN governments) is over; we need to go forward,” Abela told parliament. 

Mount Carmel Hospital was built in the 19th century, it cannot fulfil the needs of the 21st century. Mount Carmel is now stigmatised, and the country needs to move away from the building, Abela said, referring to experts' recommendations. 

Abela said acute psychiatric health services need to move to a special unit within Mater Dei Hospital.   

The health minister said that a committee of experts had recommended that mental health services should be provided in the same place where physical health services were provided.

No distinction should be made between physical health and mental health.

He said the experts also recommended that the environment where mental health services are provided should be conducive to well-being. 

Abela said many of Malta’s mental health services are provided within communities, but acute cases require hospital admission. 

He said it is logistically impossible to close Mount Carmel Hospital immediately, but plans to move psychiatric care to Mater Dei have already begun. An acute mental health ward at Malta’s general hospital will be opened in the coming months. 

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