I am currently in Malta and have visited a hospital a number of times. One thing is a notable contrast with what I have seen in Britain. In a small ward of six beds, the patients have more visitors. I counted them this evening. There were 17 visitors – an average of just under three per patient. I would say that normally each patient has between two and four visitors. The visiting hours are quite extensive – 12 until 12.30, then 3.45 until 5.30 and then again from 7.30 to 8.00. The same numbers of people are there throughout all these three and three-quarter hours.
It is true that Malta is a small place and this hospital – the Mater Dei – is located close to the main centres of population. But still, even so I find it such a contrast to visitor numbers I have seen in Britain. It may be an indicator of how close extended families are and/or an indication of the extent to which people feel a duty to support friends and family. I suspect both factors apply in Malta which, among other things, remains the most religious country in Europe.
It would be interesting if anyone has ever done an international comparison of hospital visitor numbers. I don’t suppose they have.