There’s a psychiatrist shortage in Malta, or a complete vacuum in some cases. A press release by the Maltese Association of Psychiatrists (MAP) reveals shameful statistics in the country’s poorly staffed and equipped mental health service.
Right now, there are 14 psychiatrists in the entire country. International standards dictate that there should be one psychiatrist per 10,000 people. So really, there should be a national total of 45 to 60. This leaves Malta with the one of lowest number of psychiatrists per person in Europe.
The situation for children is even more critical. The report explains that “Malta presently has the full time equivalent of 0.8 of a psychiatrist per child, when international standards suggest an equivalent of nine psychiatrists for Malta’s population.”
In addition, there are no full-time child and adolescent psychiatrists in Malta while there are only 15 consultant general psychiatrists and 10 qualified resident specialists (RS) in Malta’s National Healthcare System (NHS).
Essentially, every psychiatrist in Malta is overburdened with work.
“Excessive workload for psychiatrists is making it difficult for them to provide a safe and effective service for patients and poses a high risk of early burn out.”
MAP also mention that there isn’t the necessary information for them to establish standards appropriate to Malta. Instead, they follow international guidelines and assume that one in four people will be affected by mental disorders.
“MAP believes that there needs to be a significant improvement in the mental health data collection before it can be usefully employed to inform a mental health strategy and service development plan.”
MAP point out that two things need to be done to improve the situation; significantly focus on the workforce through incentives aimed at psychologists and psychiatrists to continue work in the public sector, and to redefine Maltese mental health services “from a hospital-based approach to one which centres on providing care in the community.”
They claim that the need is not to build a new hospital and stop there, but to go beyond that and tackle the stigma that mental disorders have in Malta.
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