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What happens if a patient requires emergency transfer outside office hours?

Whenever a patient needs to be transferred overseas for emergency treatment outside office hours, the Consultant concerned will contact the Treatment Abroad Manager who will then contact the Chairperson and Committee members to obtain urgent approval. Patients are transferred overseas within 24 hours or less.

What happens once that the referral is approved?

The Treatment Abroad Section which is based at Mater Dei Hospital Administration Block is informed about all the cases that have been discussed and approved by the Committee Members. These members of staff are responsible for the logistical arrangements for patients that will be travelling overseas for treatment. These arrangements mainly include:
  • Contact is made with Foreign hospitals to obtain appointments for patients.
  • An appointment is made with the patients and/or their relatives to explain the policies and procedures.
  • Travel and accommodation arrangements are made.
  • Contact with the Malta High Commission in London is made to inform them of patients who will be travelling to UK so that the necessary transport bookings in UK are made.
  • Continuous liaison with UK hospitals through the Malta High Commission to obtain updates on patients and their requirements.
  • Continuous contact with patients receiving treatment outside UK is kept.
  • Records of follow ups and further visits for patients are kept.

Do patients have to pay for any treatment?

If the proper procedure for referral has been followed and approval by the Treatment Abroad Committee was granted the patient is not required to pay for treatment.

If patients whilst overseas are informed that they are being administered treatment different from that they had been referred for or are sent to a private hospital, they must inform either the Malta High Commission or the Treatment Abroad Office immediately, as approval must be sought to cover any additional costs that this treatment will bring about. Any treatment which forms part of Malta’s formulary list will be covered by the Health Department. Additionally approval on a named patient basis for treatment may also be granted in line with the exceptional treatment policy; https://deputyprimeminister.gov.mt/en/pharmaceutical/Pages/EMT.aspx​

If patients opt to by-pass the system and go abroad on their own initiative without prior authorization, requests for refunds of costs will not be entertained.

What other benefits are patients entitled to?

Air Tickets:

When a patient is approved for treatment overseas and an appointment is received they are called to the office so that the necessary arrangements are started. Patients are generally issued open return tickets as the return date from overseas is unknown. Patients may opt to make their own flight arrangements and then ask for a refund. The refund will not exceed the amount which would have been paid had arrangements been made by the staff at the Treatment Abroad Section. The costs for special arrangements such as stretcher, incubator, oxygen, leg space, medical escort and air ambulance are all borne by the Department. The Treatment Abroad Office also assists relatives with the flights booking; costs are borne by the family. However the family can seek the financial assistance of charitable institutions such as Malta Community Chest Fund and Puttinu Cares Foundation. 
For patients over the age of 18 years the Department covers the cost of patients’ flights however for patients under the age of 18 the Department covers also the cost of flight tickets for two accompanying persons.


The Department covers the cost of accommodation of patients only.

For patients being treated in London and Sutton:
The Department of Health has Agreements with the Franciscan Sisters in London and Puttinu Cares Foundation who offer accommodation services to patients receiving treatment. Arrangements with the Augustinian Nuns in Oval are also in place. Payment to these institutions is made by the Department.

The Sisters’ accommodation is based in Victoria, London and is easily accessible to hospitals based in Central London. The apartments owned by Puttinu Cares Foundation are based in Surrey and these are generally used by patients receiving treatment at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton, Surrey.

For patients outside London and Sutton such as Manchester and outside UK (except Palermo):
In cases where patients are receiving treatment outside London accommodation arrangements are carried out by the patients and relatives however the Treatment Abroad Unit will provide guidance and assistance. These patients would be expected to pay for accommodation are then reimbursed on their return to Malta.

For patients in Palermo:
Accommodation for patients being treated at ISMETT Palermo is organised by the Hospital Administration. This accommodation for patient is paid directly the Department.

Accommodation arrangements are as far as possible made in lodging close to the hospitals where the patients are receiving treatment. The patients are free to make their own accommodation arrangements and are eligible for capped refund on presentation of original receipts. If accommodation is available in the vicinity of the hospital but patients opt to stay in lodging which is far, the department is not bound to provide transport between lodging and hospitals.


Patients receiving treatment in London and Sutton are provided with transport from and to designate airports and to attend for hospital appointments. Up to two accompanying persons can travel in the same car with the patient if space permits. Patients may choose to make their own travel arrangements and ask for reimbursement upon presentation of original receipts. The reimbursement would be according to the approved transport rates.

What happens if patients find it hard to communicate in other languages?

For patients receiving treatment in London interpreting services are offered through the Malta High Commission. Furthermore two Friars are engaged by the Department to offer pastoral and counseling services to all patients and relatives in UK. For patients being treated in hospitals outside the UK, interpreting services are generally organised by the Hospital itself.

How are patients followed ones they leave Malta?

Two persons have been engaged and are based at the Malta High Commission in Piccadilly to coordinate and facilitate visits of Maltese patients receiving treatment in UK. The Malta High Commission keeps daily contact with patients in UK and report back to the Treatment Abroad Office with updates on patients. The Malta High Commission is also responsible to book necessary transport/ for patients and coordinate any requirements that patients may need during their stay in UK including flight bookings on the return journey.

The Malta High Commission serves as a liaison between Malta and the UK Hospitals and endeavors to obtain appointments for patients as urgently as possible. Furthermore the Malta High Commission follows up reports on patients and ensures that the Treatment Abroad Office receives regular and timely updates on patients.

Contact with Patients being treated outside the UK.

Contact with patients receiving treatment in EU Countries other than the UK is made directly by the Treatment Abroad Office. These patients are given an emergency mobile number which is available 24/7 in case of emergencies.

Contact with patients receiving treatment in Palermo is made via ISMETT’s Administration Team who deal with Maltese patients during their treatment period. Two designated officials from ISMETT ensure that the patients and their relatives receive all the required support during their stay.