Every town and village in Malta will have its own health centre from where patients can receive their care without needing to go to Mater Dei Hospital, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Thursday. 

The ambitious plan will happen by 2021, he said. 

Mr Fearne was addressing a press conference at the Kirkop Health Centre, which is celebrating its first year of operations. He said more than 200,000 patients visited this health centre in a year, which he described as a “success”. 

Speaking about various primary healthcare projects in the pipeline, Mr Fearne said intensive work was under way on a new health centre in Victoria. Work was also under way at the regional hub in Paola, while the search was on for premises to host a regional hub in the north. 

The government was also utilising a €10 million fund, including money from the cash-for-passport scheme, to upgrade a number of health centres including the one on Gżira, which will soon close to undergo a year-long revamp. 

After opening health centres in Attard, Pietà, Sliema, Żurrieq and Żebbuġ, new centres in Żabbar and Żejtun will open next month. Other centres are planned for Mellieħa, Marsaxlokk, Valletta, Vittoriosa, Fgura, Santa Luċija, Għaxaq and Tarxien. 

Mr Fearne said studies showed that when health services were offered in the community, the number of patients attending their appointments was higher. 

He said the government also planned to extend some of the services offered by the GU Clinic to community-based centres. It was also employing consultants to offer their services exclusively in the community, especially in specialised areas such as diabetes and ophthalmic. 

Mr Fearne said the next step would then be an integrated IT system which would link all health centres and the main hospital, also making the information available to GPs, who would be able to access it from anywhere.