An average of 379 people are going to the Emergency Department at Mater Dei every day. Hospital statistics show that at least half of them could be more quickly served at various health centres, three of which are open 24/7.
With the pressure which the seasonal flu has placed on the health services, the authorities are appealing to the public to use emergency services in a responsible way for the benefit of patients who truly need them.
Around 40% of patients who go to the Emergency do not require hospital treatment, but can obtain the same treatment from one of the nine health centres around the island, which provide a wide range of medical services.
The Chief Executive for Primary Care, Roseanne Camilleri, said that although last year around 150,000 visits a month were made to health centres, they are able to cater for more people with different services, which are also provided in certain specialized clinics.
Roseanne Camilleri said, ”the most popular is the walk-in service, which is when a patient comes in to see a GP. We also have podiatry services provided by foot specialists which are found at all health centres. Patients also go the centres to see various doctors and last year more than 107,000 patients used this service. Blood letting which is done by appointment sees around 80 patients daily at the larger centres, such as Mosta, Floriana and Paola, and at the other centres there would be around 50 per day, so we are seeing a large number of people daily by appointment. We also provide colorectal and cervical screening which are popular, and an X-ray service where last year alone we had 50,000 people who came in for an X-ray.”
The services offered at health centres are worth their weight in gold and can be provided quicker than they can at Emergency, especially at this time of year, when a large number of patients are going to the Emergency Department because of the flu.
Mater Dei’s CEO, Ivan Falzon told TVM that the Emergency Department is currently seeing an average of 370 patients daily. He said that at least 140 of these could easily be seen at health centres.
Three of the main centres: Mosta, Paola and Floriana provide a 24 hour service. The centres in Rabat, Birkirkara, Bormla, Qormi Gzira and Rabat, Gozo, are open between 8am- 8pm on weekdays and on reduced hours on the weekend.