A newly-designed 10-bed ward at Mount Carmel will open its doors to patients on Wednesday after the government invested €1 million in works at the mental health hospital.

Health Minister Chris Fearne unveiled the ward during a press conference from the hospital on Tuesday, a day before the first group of patients are to be admitted to the ward. 

Fearne used the press conference to reveal that the government would be providing details about the easing of more COVID-19 restrictions in the coming days. 

The new Mount Carmel ward will treat female patients who have mental health issued related to drug use. It is named after doctor Maria Sciberras, who worked closely with drug abusers.

According to Fearne, the ward has been designed with the specific needs of such patients and is of the highest standards. 

"Even the furniture used here has been designed to fit the needs of the patients who will get treatment here. This ward is similar to those at Mater Dei Hospital, if not better," he said. 

The works ward cost the government €1 million. 

Meanwhile, the minister said the government is aware the pandemic has taken a toll on many people's mental health and the authorities will be focusing even more on this once COVID-19 is completely under control. 

The government will also be unveiling plans for the much-awaited acute hospital which is to be built on the Mater Dei campus. This will enable healthcare professionals to treat patients outside Mount Carmel, which Fearne admitted still carries with it certain stigma. 

"We want to offer mental health support wherever possible, even in the homes, because we want to avoid patients relapsing," Fearne said.  

The acute hospital is in the tender adjudication phase, he said, and although he provided no additional information, he said the government's plan to have it up and running by 2025 was still on track. 

In January, the association of psychiatrists described Mount Carmel Hospital as not fit for purpose and called for a temporary mental health hospital until the promised new one is built.

Concern about the state of the Attard hospital has made headlines over recent years and most of its ceilings were condemned by architects in 2019.

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