With the current debate on Primary health reform raging and with the government’s proposals seemingly stuck in the mire due to opposition from practically all stakeholders, we should not be deviated from the real picture regarding the situation in Malta’s health sector which is obviously in need of substantial reform.
With Mater Dei constantly struggling to cope with the substantial workload mainly due to the lack of adequate human resources, the proposal for access to patient radiology or laboratory reports should be helpful for general practitioners in taking correct decisions as to whether a patient is referred to hospital, be it outpatients or the emergency department or not. If this is correctly handled, the workload on the general hospital will surely decrease as it will be only those who really need to go to hospital who will be referred there.
It is a gross anomaly that private GP's still do not have access to such results and the use of telephone for such purposes is time consuming and often met with refusal from hospital staff who adamantly will not give out results both verbally or by e-mail to the private doctor with the patient in front of him, citing reasons such as 'data protection' or 'hospital policy' as an excuse.
To add to this anomaly, it is a known fact that at times doctors have to obtain patient’s results through contacts at the hospital for important decisions about primary care which is definitely not the correct way to go about things. Data protection is important but the patient’s right to information on matters pertaining to his or her interest is equally important.
An urgent method for resolving this issue is needed at the outset irrespective of the ongoing debate on primary healthcare reform.