You’re Irish, you’re in Malta without work and you are suddenly running a high fever. You go to the polyclinic, and the doctor there tells you sternly that you have to go to hospital. You get to the front desk of A&E, a clerk asks you to show an E111 card (which you haven’t got) and your most recent payslip (which you also haven’t got). The clerk then asks for €100, which you certainly don’t keep in your wallet.
You’ve still got fever and you’ve been denied treatment at Mater Dei.
This is what happened to an Irish woman last Saturday, when she was turned down by an A&E receptionist for showing her July payslip instead of a more recent payslip. Despite living in Malta for the past 6 years and currently being employed, and having proof that she had recently paid NI, she was rudely told by the hospital clerk that she could not enter A&E as she could not pay the €100.
Why does this even happen?
The procedure at hospital is that if individuals needing medical attention can’t make the payment, the receptionist has the authority to turn them away before being seen by any medical professional. The patient is also required to show a physical copy of their most recent payslip. If this is not presented, then, given that there are no other means of proof that they do in fact pay NI, they will be turned away.
When contacted by Lovin Malta, the Irish woman commented that “why a receptionist refused to let me go in is ridiculous. I couldn’t understand the logic of how a girl sitting at a reception desk could refuse people going into the hospital just because of €100. It doesn’t make sense.” She added that the receptionist had thrown the doctor’s referral letter back at her and said that she couldn’t go in unless she paid the fee.
A Maltese colleague of hers who accompanied her to the hospital paid the fee instead, and and the woman stayed in there for five days. The friend is still waiting to be refunded by Mater Dei after showing proof of the Irish woman’s October payslip to the Mater Dei Billings department.
“I just was in total shock that a receptionist in A&E can refuse me to be seen with a doctor’s letter. I was under the impression that they only want proof that you’re working.”
The woman’s friend told Lovin Malta that her friend “had no money on her but she pointed out that if [the receptionist] looks at the pay slip she will see she is working in Malta and paying her tax and NI. This still wasn’t good enough.”
A handful of non-working, non-EU individuals in Malta have a similar story to tell.
Despite obviously needing to be given treatment, a clerk at the hospital has the authority to deny a patient entrance into hospital if the payment is not made. No triage or medical assessment is done before the clerk is able to dismiss the patient.
When the Mater Dei Billings office was contacted, a representative informed Lovin Malta that “of course he will have to pay [before being admitted by the receptionist]. He will be seen by the reception of the emergency and he will have to pay the €100 there and then.”