A Mount Carmel staff member recently told this website he got a culture shock as soon as he started working at the mental health hospital, with the situation there reminding him of Havana in the 1970s.
This wasn’t exactly news; everyone knows Mount Carmel has serious infrastructural problems and has long been screaming out for some serious investment. The government has promised to replace it with a modern hospital but it’s been all talk so far, and meanwhile Mount Carmel continues to rot.
Yet recent incidents at the hospital seem to have finally woken Malta up to the problem.
Health minister Chris Fearne today announced a massive capital investment of around €25 million in Mount Carmel. The hospital’s annual budget will shoot up drastically from €0.5 million to €5 million for the next five years, with Fearne pledging its standards would have reached those of Mater Dei by that time.
“Mount Carmel has been ignored for the past 30 years, but this government is committed to refurbishing it a rapid rate,” he told the Malta Independent. “We’ve already changed the water pipes and electricity system and invested €1 million into a single ward that will open next month. This investment will continue for the next five years until Mount Carmel is on the same level as Mater Dei.”
As a long-term measure, Fearne said the Queen Mary University of London and Barts Medical School will help the government design a ten-year mental health strategy, which will include the construction of an acute hospital near Mount Carmel.
Opposition leader Adrian Delia was left disappointed at the announcement and argued that the government could and should do better than that to truly solve Malta’s mental health problems.
“Instead of giving me comfort, I was left shocked at Fearne’s announcement that the government’s only solution is a long-term plan,” Delia told a press conference outside Mount Carmel. “The World Health Organisation has warned of a future mental health pandemic, so I expected more than that announcement from the government.”
Opposition MP Mario Galea also urged the government to focus its energy into building mental health clinics and centres within communities rather than a new hospital.
It looks like the ball has finally started rolling…