Closure of psychiatric outpatients department condemned

mental health

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Maltese Association of Social Workers and the University of Malta’s Faculty of Social Wellbeing have both decried the closure of the psychiatric outpatients department at Mater Dei Hospital.

The dean of the faculty, Andrew Azzopardi, said that stopping outpatient psychiatric services “is probably one of the worse decisions that can be taken at a time when anxiety and the possibility of relapse increase exponentially due to the fears brought about by the pandemic.”

He said that he was confident that a solution ensuring the protection of professionals whilst providing the best possible service could be found.

Meanwhile, MASW said that the closure of the department without a concrete plan to transfer all patients to mental health community clinics has brought about increased concern amongst service users, their carers and professionals.

Professionals, it said, were worried about the postponement of appointments on multiple occasions. But the MASW declared that it was particularly concerned about patients with serious mental illnesses who might fall through the cracks and go untreated, with serious consequence.

The association additionally flagged concerns about the lack of human resources to meet demand, particularly when it comes to those who shoulder legal responsibility should something happen as a result.

It thus appealed for mental health community clinics to be housed in appropriate premises in which each member of a multidisciplinary team can offer quality service.