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Video Conference Link Will Train Maltese Doctors

June 01, 2009 9:40 AM

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Scotland’s biggest children’s hospital is “exporting” its expertise in a special video conference link-up with Malta medics.

And the new special relationship is thanks to Maltese born Dr Paul Galdea, General Paediatrician / Rheumatology, and Robert Carachi, Professor of Paediatric Surgery, who both work at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill (RHSC).

The first video conference has already taken place between the RHSC and senior doctors at Malta’s Mater Dei Hospital, plus the Maltese Government’s Parliamentary Secretary for Health, The Honorable Dr Joseph Cassar.

The aim is to help the Maltese health service by setting up post graduate training, having video link case conferences and perhaps even using the technology to view surgical operations.

Dr Galea, The RHSC’s General Paediatrician/ Rheumatology, said: “The link worked well. That was the technical bit. The hard work starts now in creating a teaching programme which meets their requirements and fits in with our teaching programme here.

“Professor Carachi and I will need to spend some time over the summer months preparing this to launch it in September. We hope that the next conference will be attended by more of the Maltese paediatricians at the sharp edge, who can perhaps tell us more about their needs.”

At the first video conference Dr Galea impressed the Maltese medics by outlining the facilities and specialties at the RHSC including cardiology, renal treatment and bone marrow transplants.

Equally impressive were the statistics as Dr Galea explained that in the last financial year 16,000 in-patients generated 64,000 bed days.

During the same period the RHSC had around 10,000 day cases, 39,000 new out-patients and 64,000 referred out-patients, the hospital’s A&E department saw more than 40,000 patients and surgical department performed more than 1500 day-case operations, 936 emergency operations and 970 elective operations.

Because Malta is an island with a population of around 400,000 and a low birth rate, many doctors leave to work in other countries where there are greater opportunities to use their skills and build their expertise.

DrArthur Felice, the Lead Postgraduate Medical Co-ordinator at the Mater Dei Hospital, said: “We welcome this opportunity to use technology for training.

“It is not only cost effective but will increase the ratio of trainees to doctors.

“If we can begin video conferencing and using telemedicine it is a very scintillating thought, and it will also be helpful in educating patients about their diseases.”

Facilities at the Mater Dei include 825 inpatient beds, 24 operating theatres and an MRI scanner.

The RHSC’s Professor Carachi is heavily involved in post graduate training, he added: “This is an exciting way of supporting the link to Malta by using this technology.

“It can start at the beginning of the academic year and then be assessed at Christmas when we can get feedback from doctors about how it has benefited them.”

Dr Cassar, Malta’s Parliamentary Secretary for Health, described the initiative as a “major milestone in postgraduate training in Malta.”

He went on: “It will enable us to contact medical people abroad and avoid people having to travel.

“We will also be able to view surgical operations with surgeons using the latest technology and ask questions in tutorials.

“We have many colleagues working around the world in centres of excellence like Yorkhill and this will be an important link for us.”

Building on the expertise gained from the RHSC, Dr Cassar said that it is hoped that the Mater Dei “will in the future become the maternity centre in our region.”

Ends

For more information contact NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429.

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