Health authorities are in advanced discussions with stakeholders for pharmacies to introduce a roster system to also start opening on Sunday afternoons, Health Minister Chris Fearne said on Sunday.

Addressing a Labour Party conference on the theme ‘Renewing Malta Together’, Fearne announced that discussions are under way for people to have the possibility to access pharmacy services not just during the week and on Sunday mornings, but also on Sunday afternoons.

“We are in advanced discussions with stakeholders so that through a roster system, pharmacies will also open on Sunday afternoons, giving Maltese and Gozitans the possibility to use their pharmacy throughout the week.”

Pharmacies currently open on a roster basis on Sunday mornings, from 9am to noon. The pharmacy at Malta International Airport's arrivals lounge opens from 8am to 10pm.

Addressing the conference through a virtual telephone call, the health minister also said that, in the weeks to come, a crisis intervention service will be launched. This will include a dedicated team of people to assist individuals with mental health problems which could lead to suicide.

The team will be able to visit these people and provide immediate service.

‘Hospital catching-up on services postponed by pandemic’ 

Praising health professionals for their service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Fearne said the health system is currently "catching up" on services that had had to be postponed.

“We are currently working to catch up, a number of appointments and services had had to be postpone due to the pandemic, and I appeal to unions to cooperate. I understand that this is not an easy time," he said.

He pointed out how no hospital around the world had been prepared for COVID-19, including Malta.

“But since we had strengthened our health system throughout the years, making it strong and robust, we managed to do miracles,” the minister said.

He said that five ITUs had been set up within a few weeks with the necessary machinery and beds so that no patient would be left without a service. Unlike Malta, many hospitals around the world are, to date, struggling to keep up with COVID-19 cases, he said.

Fearne metioned how throughout the past few weeks, the government focused on making primary care more accessible in towns and villages. 

"We have renovated old health centres and opened new ones. Very soon Valletta will have it's own health centre and come March next year, Gozo will have a brand new health centre in Victoria."

Fearne also said in the months to come, new medicines will be introduced on the government formulary, including medication for fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, mental health and IVF.


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