The closure of Mount Carmel Hospital

A series analysing the decisions, schemes, and projects under the aegis of respective Ministries and their areas of responsibility, contributing to the implementation of Labour’s ‘Malta Flimkien’ electoral manifesto proposals.

Two years ago, the Maltese people headed to the polls to affirmatively choose who they want to lead the country for the next five years. Arguably, a determining factor leading to another landslide in the country’s books was the Labour Party’s electoral manifesto, ‘Malta Flimkien’.

The Manifesto, an ambitious and carefully curated set of 1,000 proposals, lays out the Labour Party’s vision for the country for the next three years, leaving no sector or area of development devoid of specification.

It has been two years since it was announced that the Labour Party would continue leading Malta into the future it deserves. There is no better position than now to critically determine how the blueprint envisaged by the Party is coming to fruition, away from partisan undercurrents. Was it too ambitious, or is it being executed meticulously?

If you want to refresh your memory, you can find the manifesto here.

The closure of Mount Carmel Hospital

Relates mainly to: Health

Targeted electoral manifesto proposals: 499 and 501

Effect on the Community: In recent years, there have been several initiatives by different governmental and private entities that contributed towards the gradual destigmatisation of mental health, both nationally and the world over. Against this backdrop, lie sobering statistics and underlying factors which arguably leave us with no option but to reflect on what can be done better. In a recent study, it was reported that an estimated 22.42% of the Maltese population have a mental health disorder. The study also mentions that, despite there being a hospital solely dedicated to the treatment of mental health, Mount Carmel Hospital, the stigmatisation wrapped in simply stating the name of the building leads to stigma by individuals who genuinely require mental healthcare. So, how will the proposed closure of Mount Carmel hospital impact mental healthcare?

Originally, the Manifesto proposed that Mount Carmel be changed to a specialised unit for addiction problems and other psychiatric issues, part and parcel with serious modernisation of the hospital to cater for this specifically. It seems the plan has changed. The plans announced by the Ministry of Health mean that the plan is that Mount Carmel will cease operating as a hospital. The project will be divided into three stages, which will see the mental health hospital gradually phased out and patients progressively relocated over the next few weeks. Most notably, the project will see the development of a new acute psychiatric ward at Mater Dei Hospital which will see state-of-the-art facilities to cater for 128 in-patients and accessibility of mental health services with the main hospital. It is reported that this project will be completed in 2028. In the meantime, psychiatric care will be temporarily relocated to a specific ward in Mater Dei Hospital.

Although this project deviates from the original electoral manifesto proposal, by closing the hospital there seems to be a move towards unification of healthcare services at Mater Dei Hospital, which in turn gives one the impression that mental health care is being afforded the same importance as physical health. As opposed to having a separate and somewhat isolated hospital, mental health is being treated under the same roof as other specialised departments, pointing towards unified and singular internal infrastructure for healthcare.

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli/Times of Malta

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