A new magnetic machine to treat people suffering severe depression was introduced to Mater Dei last year, but today is just taking up precious space that could be used for therapy sessions.
The hospital had big plans for the €37,000 MagVenture machine, which was meant to treat around 12 patients per week. But hospital employees who spoke to Lovin Malta have complained the TMS machine has been left unused, taking up an entire room previously used for therapy.
Sources said nobody in the hospital had even been trained to use the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation machine yet. Meanwhile, Mater Dei’s psychiatric unit must cope with a lack of space.
A hospital employee who spoke to Lovin Malta on the condition of anonymity said that the besides the clinic room available to doctors when carrying out their ward rounds, there is an Occupation Therapy room and two other rooms that used to be available for therapy intervention.
“One of the rooms has been taken by the consultant psychiatrist as his office, and the other therapy room is no longer available due to the TMS machine,” the source said, leaving no room available at the hospital for psychologists and psychotherapists to use to follow up on their referred patients.
This machine is not a replacement for therapy or treatment, and it should also be paired with psychological care.
“The TMS machine is relatively new and as far as I know the research is not conclusive,” the source continued. “I am not well read about its benefits, nor have I carried out any research about the machine as it does not fall under my remit of expertise. However, from the research that I do know and my years of experience, I can say with all confidence that medical therapies and treatment work best when paired with psychological interventions.”
“There are no rooms in the hospital with regards to psychiatric follow-ups, above and beyond that which is guaranteed to the doctors,” the hospital employee told Lovin Malta. “Psychologists and psychotherapists are struggling to find rooms, especially at POP.”
“They always risk being moved due to doctors needing the room. Many times, professionals would have carried out their intervention in the middle of the corridor.”
The Ministry of Health told Lovin Malta that the equipment will be moved from Mater Dei Psychiatric Unit to Mount Carmel Hospital and services will soon start.