Rebuilding Gozo’s health service – Chris Said

As a member of parliament, I receive many phone calls from my constituents. It’s a direct contact that I cherish and encourage. It keeps me grounded, constantly close to the realities that our people face each day. It allows me to understand issues that might not be impacting me personally and to consider different viewpoints so that I can then push for decisions to be taken that can impact positively the widest spectrum of our society.

But there are phone calls that, frankly, I wish nobody would ever need to make and these tend to revolve around our healthcare service. They are phone calls from people trying to do all that is possible to ensure that their loved ones are not neglected while seeking care.

I lost count of the phone calls I have received in the past few years from desperate people seeing their loved ones in danger of losing their life simply because our healthcare system was failing them when it mattered most. Alarming situations, ranging from the lack of a helicopter service to quickly transfer patients from Gozo to Mater Dei Hospital to patients having to wait in life-and-death situations for bureaucracy to take its course.

Gozo has come a long way since a Nationalist government built and eventually modernised the Gozo General Hospital. As our economy grew and our people aspired to a better quality of life, we kept investing in Gozo’s healthcare system so that more and better services are offered in Gozo.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the past eight years of Labour administration, with its illogical and shady agreement it signed with Steward Health Care to take over our hospital to supposedly rebuild it. What Steward has done with our hospital is known to all: zilch. But they are still pocketing some €80 million a year in taxpayers’ money.

This is why a new Nationalist administration will take back the Gozo General Hospital and give it to the people. We will hold SHC accountable for all that they failed to deliver, while we reinvest intensively to give Gozo the healthcare service it needs.

Our promise cannot be more concrete: we will rebuild the Gozo General Hospital, turning it into a modern 400-bed healthcare facility, putting Gozitans’ mind at rest that there won’t be any cutting of corners when it comes to their well-being and healthcare needs. We will equip both the Gozo General Hospital and Mater Dei with helicopter pads and have a helicopter on standby at the Gozo General Hospital at all times. Patients who need urgent treatment at Mater Dei will not have to wait.

We will rebuild the Gozo General Hospital, turning it into a modern 400-bed healthcare facility– Chris Said

It pains me early in the morning seeing Gozitan cancer patients on the ferry on the way to Malta to receive their dose of chemotherapy. While we flaunt our mushrooming economy, we seem to be neglecting such basic needs. So, in the first six months of a Nationalist government, we are committing ourselves to increasing the range of chemotherapy services offered at the Gozo General Hospital and, in close collaboration with the Oncology Hospital in Malta, ensure that all chemotherapy services that can possibly be made available on the island start becoming so.

Same for offering the possibility for Gozitan patients to undergo MRI tests in Gozo. We will introduce a new MRI service at the Gozo General Hospital in our first six months in government. Having to send Gozitan patients to Malta for an MRI service in this day and age should no longer be acceptable.

And while Gozo is small, we still need to do more to decentralise our healthcare system, shattering mental health stigmas and providing quality care to our elderly, dementia patients and persons with disabilities through more services offered in our localities.

We have an ageing population that will eventually require more round-the-clock healthcare assistance. And we want our elderly, who have no serious health conditions, to remain at the heart of our communities once they are no longer able to live an independent life at home.

For this reason, a Nationalist government commits itself to opening no less than five elderly homes across Gozo, with an additional home dedicated exclusively to the disabled.

The same applies to tackling mental health issues. We will make it a priority to open a community home in Gozo for those suffering from mental health issues, enabling patients to stay close to the community, allowing relatives better access to their loved ones and a reassurance that they are receiving the best possible care.

Cases of Alzheimer and other types of dementia are also on the increase, making life arduous for both patients and family members. The need for a community home exclusively for dementia patients is now becoming more pressing and we are committing ourselves to this project, providing patients with round-the-close care close to the community. 

There is nothing that we cherish more than our health and that of our loved ones. We cannot afford to see healthcare services in Gozo not receiving the attention they need. Investing in quality healthcare is at the heart of the Nationalist Party’s vision to make Gozo a better place to live in, both for residents and for those who visit us. It’s time to prioritise what matters most. 

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