Libyan nationals with critical injuries are being treated in a specific area of the intensive therapy unit that is set up whenever Malta has a major incident, according to the Health Ministry.

Defending government’s decision to offer medical treatment to Libyan patients, the ministry yesterday said that no specific contingency plans were drawn up for the crisis because Mater Dei hospital activated its major incident plans.

“Mater Dei hospital is always in readiness mode for major incidents and the plans were activated to take care of the arrival and acceptance of these Libyan patients,” a spokes­man said when asked by The Times whether contingency plans were drawn up to deal with the influx.

In a separate statement the ministry flatly denied media reports appearing yesterday that three Maltese patients were transferred out of the ITU to make way for Libyan nationals who landed in Malta on Tuesday.

“Medical care at hospital is delivered with no distinction based on race, colour or nationality and clinical decisions are taken depending on the patients’ condition,” the statement said.

Hospital sources speaking to The Times said the Libyan nationals were set up in an area normally used for day surgery patients, prompting concerns that some surgeries could be cancelled as a result. However, the spokesman said no day surgeries were cancelled.

“We have dealt with this influx successfully and can deal with incoming patients in groups as envisaged in the hospital’s major incident plans,” he reiterated.Malta Union of Nurses and Midwives president Paul Pace on Tuesday said Malta was not in a position to support any influx of patients, adding Mater Dei was too crowded and unprepared for the situation.

Mater Dei hospital is currently treating 14 Libyan patients. One of the patients will be going to the UK for further treatment while another Libyan national is expected to arrive in Malta on Saturday for eye treatment.

In a medical bulletin issued yesterday the Health Ministry said the condition of 10 Libyan nationals admitted to Mater Dei on Tuesday was critical but stable. Two were operated upon and their condition is reported to be stable and improving.

Non critical patients brought over from Libya were sent to St James Hospital, the spokesman said, based on a preliminary medical assessment carried out by Mater Dei consultants on the arriving aircraft.

Four patients with serious injuries are still being treated at St James and two previous patients were discharged from the hospital and were now out of the country.

Asked whether the government would enter into a public-private partnership to deal with the Libya crisis, the spokesman said that if the need arose “a cooperative arrangement” would be made.

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