The Nationalist Party has pledged to scrap a deal that privatised three state hospitals and promised to build a new hospital in Gozo if elected into government.
PN MPs Chris Said and Kevin Cutajar as well as candidate Josephine Xuereb announced the proposals as part of 10 new healthcare ideas the party said it would undertake in Gozo if voted into government.
In 2016, the government transferred three state hospitals; St Luke’s, Karin Grech and the Gozo General Hospital, to Vitals Global Healthcare in a controversial and secretive 30-year agreement.
After facing financial difficulties and defaulting on a number of contractual commitments in the agreement, including the investment of €200 million in new medical facilities, Vitals transferred the concession to Steward Health Care in 2018.
The government has since entered into talks with Steward to see how the deal can be evolved, with cabinet given a presentation about returning the hospitals to the state in January of this year.
Said said the PN proposals were important because the Labour government had “sold off” Gozitans' access to efficient health care behind people’s backs, adding there were a number of clear avenues to take in order to nullify the contract.
“They promised us miracles and have nothing to show for it,” he said.
“Not only did the Auditor General’s report say that the deal should have been barred due to collusion, but they were meant to deliver a new 450-bed hospital in Gozo, on which work has not even started. Taxpayers have continued to pay for this deal while they failed to deliver their contractual obligations, so I would say there are clear indicators that this contract should be terminated.”
New hospital for Gozo
The PN government would pledge to build a new, modern general hospital in Gozo that would not only improve healthcare access for Gozitans, but with facilities that would allow it to expand into the niche of medical tourism, Said added, pledging that Steward Health Care employees would be incorporated into the project and that no jobs would be lost in the process.
The party is also promising to:
Increase the kinds of chemotherapy offered in Gozo, so patients will have to take less trips to Malta for treatment;
A new MRI machine to be installed in Gozo within the first six months of a PB legislature;
The building of two new helipads, one in Gozo and one at Mater Dei hospital, to facilitate the transfer of emergency patients, within the first year of PN governance;
The building of five small, community based old people’s homes around Gozo, as well the promise of community care homes for dementia patients, people with mental health disorders and people with severe disabilities.
Said added that all the proposals had been costed and that the PN was committed to delivering value for money to people and not pay in advance for services which never materialise.
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