From a psychiatric nurse at Mount Carmel Hospital
The Euro Pride in Malta will commence today. News are continuously being published in our Liberal and Pro-Government media in support of this event to build up the hype among the local population. However, one issue has been kept hidden from the public. The management of Mount Carmel Hospital is asking the psychiatric nurses to work overtime duties during the dates of this event. The Ministry of Health expects a spike in mental health emergency crises during the gay pride days!
Not to be misunderstood, it is good practice that all the necessary preparations are in place. However, one cannot refrain from commenting this does not happen when there is an organization in Malta of other cultural events. Psychiatric nurses are not offered beforehand to work overtime at Mount Carmel Hospital as is happening with the gay pride events. It is not a standard practice for psychiatric nurses to be alert when there is a mass cultural event.
Interestingly, Mount Carmel Hospital management has found funds to pay for overtime to specialized psychiatric nurses for Euro Pride Week. In the last weeks, the same management could not afford to pay the nurses caring for vulnerable patients, some of whom had suicidal syndromes. Such patients need continuous supervision on a one-to-one basis. Instead of engaging professional staff, the management hired nurses and care workers employed by the contractors. The nurses employed by the contractor are only qualified as general nurses and possess no specialization in psychiatric care. The care workers are not even qualified as nurses. The reason for employing such nurses and care workers is that they cost far less than the regular nurses at Mount Carmel Hospital.
This exposes the Government’s false propaganda about mental health and wellbeing. Notwithstanding all the statements one hears from the Ministry of Health, or directly from the Minister or the Commissioner of Mental Health, it is all cheap talk. Unfortunately, mental health is always the Cinderella of our health system.
The truth is that all the Maltese governments sidelined mental health. Both the Nationalist and Labour administrations did not invest in Mount Carmel Hospital. One only needs to visit Mount Carmel Hospital to see it all with one own eyes. It is a hospital that is falling apart. Most of the wards have their ceiling condemned. No solid investment has been made in this hospital since Malta’s independence in 1964. Only cosmetic work was done to allow a minister to come over and cut the ribbon!
The mental health situation in Malta is now in dire straits. The number of suicidal cases and mental health problems is spiking, affecting all genders and age groups. The introduction of the law that permits the use of marijuana has made the situation even worse. Self-harming among youths has increased. All this has put the mental health sector, both at Mount Carmel Hospital and the services given in the community, under tremendous pressure as this sector is short of resources. Such pressure is taking its toll on healthcare workers.
But, what matters for the Government is publicity. The Government knows that if the increase in the demand for mental health services during the Euro Pride is unmet, this will catch the media’s attention. The Government would face severe criticism, exposing the danger behind follies and ridiculing some speakers who pride themselves on being the upcoming experts in wellbeing. The Government has an interest in keeping all this from the public. Even more, the Government wants to keep hidden the dire situation in mental care and does not want the inherent problems in this sector to catch the attention of the international media. Such criticisms would expose further the lousy services given to mental health patients in Malta.
All this would expose the fact that money is not being appropriately spent. While the quality of the services in the mental health sector is terrible, and there usually is no money to pay the professional staff, the same Government has the money to offer lavish salaries to useless CEOs, including the one responsible for the mental health hospital, who is unfit for purpose.