The Malta Independent 18 April 2024, Thursday
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Watch: Prime Minister doesn't rule out hospitals being privately run again

Marc Galdes Wednesday, 8 March 2023, 13:33 Last update: about 2 years ago

The possibility of a new concession for the running of three of Malta's hospitals is not being ruled out by Prime Minister Robert Abela.

Abela spoke to journalists following the oaths of office taken by the New Standards Commissioner and new Ombudsman. Abela clarified that the hospitals have not returned to the Maltese government following a recent court judgement yet because the appeals period is not over. If an appeal is filed, he said, the original court's decision will not be definitive until the Superior court of appeal's decision is made.

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During a Labour Party political event in Xaghra, Gozo on Sunday, Abela pledged that a new hospital in Gozo will be built in this legislature.

Asked when a timeframe for the construction of this new hospital would be available, Abela said that one of the things the government will do this legislature once any legal procedures regarding the court judgement are concluded, is to start the process to build a new hospital.

He said that currently discussions regarding the timeframes and the way the project will be handled are ongoing. However, he said that the government is even discussing scenarios where this project might be carried out privately. "Whether there should be a concession agreement for the three hospitals, separate concessions, or if the government should administer everything, these are ongoing discussions taking place so that the government can implement its vision for the three hospitals," Abela said.

Asked where this hospital will be built, Abela said that this will be built "on the existing footprint or next to it."

Last month, a court in Malta ruled that three hospitals that were being managed by Steward Health Care are to be returned under government control. Former Opposition Leader Adrian Delia won the court case against the 99-year emphyteutical concession agreement awarded to Vitals Global Healthcare, later Steward, on 24 February.

The court nullified all three contracts awarded to Vitals and Steward in a damning ruling suggesting "fraudulent behaviour." The Maltese hospitals involved in the agreement were, St Luke's, Karin Grech and Gozo General Hospitals.

The PN said in a statement reacting to the Prime Minister’s comments that it is “surreal that Robert Abela has learnt nothing from the court’s sentence about the fraudulent and corrupt contract which sold three of the people’s hospitals to the private sector.”

The party said that Robert Abela remains the person responsible for having voted in favour of paying hundreds of millions of euros to Vitals and Steward in every Budget.

The PN noted that some days ago Health Minister Chris Fearne said in Parliament that the government is working on a plan for the three hospitals to be run by the State again.

“Today, Robert Abela challenged him and didn’t exclude giving them to the private sector again,” the party concluded. 

 

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