Patients Not Profit demonstration on threat from healthcare privatisation
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The Patients Not Profit (PNP) Movement held a public demonstration in Valletta today. The Movement is made up of a growing number of students and health professionals “who are concerned about the future of our national health service.”
PNP said that it was founded in the wake of the privatisation of three public hospitals: the Gozo General Hospital, Karin Grech and St Luke’s and “the threat to medical education posed by a for-profit medical school that endangers the future of students, healthcare workers and ultimately patients.”
It said that each of PNP’s founding principles were “borne out of disappointment. Disappointment in the abject lack of transparency, in the disregard of evidence-based public health policy and in the prioritisation of profit over patients.”
Today, PNP and its allies gathered in Pjazza de la Valette to offer basic health checks to the public and it said, “to engage them about what’s happening to their national health service.”
PNP stated that it advocates for:
“Transparency for healthcare deals
Evidence-based public health policy
Patient-centred health system; not profit-driven”
Consistent with the above principles, PNP said that it would like to see all contracts pertaining to public healthcare systems published in full, well ahead of their implementation. “Consultation with the public and stakeholders should be proactive and not retrospective.” PNP asked how can citizens scrutinise what is happening to their assets when they are not given the tools with which to do so?
“Public health is an expanding field in medicine and health sciences. There exists a wealth of research about public health policy which should be made use of.” PNP added that it is concerned that “failed policies such as Public Private Partnerships/Private Finance Initiatives adopted from abroad should not be trialled in Malta: gambling with healthcare is gambling with lives,” it said.
“Delivering high-quality healthcare is not intrinsically profitable. A successful business is one which makes a profit. This entails minimising expenses and maximising gains. Services which are most “wasteful” (e.g. Intensive Care, Geriatrics & Accident & Emergency) are typically the first to have their corners cut. Public heath care and making profit are incompatible,” said PNP
The Movement went on to say that “a child suffering from an invariably terminal blood cancer is not a customer. An elderly woman suffering from diabetes and foot ulcers is not a financial asset. A young man suffering from severe asthma is not an opportunity to increase your company’s position in the stock market.”
It pointed out that “the primary aim of a health system is to serve patients. Mixing business with public healthcare introduces an obvious conflict of interest. There is evidence of this from abroad.”
PNP said that it would like to see direct investment in the public health system which is transparent and evidence based.