Corrective action at Mount Carmel Hospital is long overdue according to the Mental Health Commissioner, who is insisting that patient care is provided from “safe and dignified premises”.

Dr John Cachia was contacted after the Times of Malta exposed how architects had declared several wards at Mount Carmel Hospital as being too unsafe to house patients and staff, ordering their immediate closure.

The findings of the technical people as reported in the Times of Malta, seem to confirm what this Office has been repeatedly stressing in its reports, conferences, meetings with management, media interventions and parliamentary hearings, he said.

“We have consistently spoken about dated physical environments, safety issues and the need for maintenance and upgrading. Urgent corrective action is long overdue and we appeal that the necessary works are carried out without delay.”

Just last month, Dr Cachia said in an interview that the country could not continue to depend on the goodwill of the staff, who make up for the shortcomings in the care environment.

Yesterday the Commissioner said his office continued to stress that acute care should move to Mater Dei Hospital while the mainstay of treatment should move to services in the community backed up by specialised teams.

Meanwhile, multidisciplinary community services should be spread out over the whole country to be equally accessible to all citizens and long-term care facilities for psychiatric patients should be offered from dignified and modern care environments.

“As an immediate measure, we repeat our recommendation that all elderly long-term patients within Mount Carmel Hospital be assessed and those whose care requirements are largely social and geriatric are transferred to appropriate residential care for the elderly,” Dr Cachia said.

“Concerning other patients that still need to be cared for or have to continue to use services provided from Mount Carmel Hospital, we insist that patient care is provided from safe and dignified premises.

“We reiterate our appeal that all necessary works are rapidly undertaken to restore safety for both patients and staff until acceptable alternatives are available.”

The Times of Malta also contacted the Maltese Association of Psychiatric Nurses for a reaction. President Pierre Galea said the MAPN was founded to safeguard, promote and guide the advancement of the psychiatric mental health nursing profession in Malta. But this was no easy feat, especially in the current climate where mental health is “making the news with these negative and concerning events.”

“As MAPN we can continue to organise seminars and empower our members to hold their profession with pride.

“However, nurses are struggling with shortcomings, some working in outdated environments, which are a far cry from the therapeutic milieu they studied and learned about during their training and in text books about mental health and psychiatric care,” Mr Galea said.

“And this is not only about psychiatric mental health nursing... it involves other professionals including social workers, occupational therapists, doctors and psychologists, that are there to meet the complex needs of mental illness.”

The solution, he noted, might not be easy and straightforward.

“We need to point out inadequacies as this can instigate positive developments,” Mr Galea said.

“It is not enough to change logos... attitudes need to be changed as well. We need to work together to make sure inadequacies are addressed with an effective plan. We need an attitude which encourages us to criticise and address shortcomings, and an environment which empowers us to hold our profession with pride.”

MUMN urges hospital upgrade

The Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses is urging the authorities to continue with its plan to upgrade Mount Carmel Hospital after pulling back from possible industrial action following a meeting held yesterday.

“The project was discussed during talks we had with the Mount Carmel Hospital management,” the MUMN said in a statement.

“Other matters on the agenda were debated and we also agreed on the schedule for future discussions.”

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