Catering for state hospitals a €25 million industry for one

Malta’s ageing population and PPP healthcare drive an opportunity for growing contract catering industry

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Matthew Vella
6 April 2017, 8:24am
Outsourcing nursing and health catering to the private sector costs €25 million across various state hospitals
Outsourcing nursing and health catering to the private sector costs €25 million across various state hospitals
The healthcare catering company owned by hotels company db Group and James Caterers, doubled its multi-million turnover over the past three years since clinching various government contracts.

Malta Healthcare Caterers (MHC) clinched major contracts since 2013, seeing its turnover double in under a year to over €25 million. The company is now vying to open its own elderly care residence in a contentious outside-development-zone in Santa Lucia.

MHC comprises both healthcare catering company Healthmark Care Services, and nursing companies Health Services Group and Support Services Ltd.

The operations of the healthcare division started in 2014 with the acquisition of two existing healthcare companies, and in November 2015 it took over the services previously provided by the now-defunct Malta Memorial District Nursing Association.

At present, the healthcare division employs 1,500, including 150 professional nurses and 1,200 care assistants who are engaged for nursing services under the Active Ageing and Community Care Directorate, Mater Dei Hospital and other entities under the Health Department, and the state elderly home St Vincent de Paul Residence.

MHC has been catering for Mater Dei, St Luke’s and Boffa hospitals since 2007, and in 2015 its contract was extended to 2022. Since 2013, it offers services also to Gozo General Hospital, and St Vincent de Paul residence – it now serves 5,700 meals per day.

In a financial analysis summary by Charts for MHC’s proprietor SD Holdings, which this week launched a €65 million bond issue, it was revealed that Malta Healthcare’s turnover doubled from €12.9 million in 2014 to €25 million, and is expected to remain constant for 2017 – with pre-tax profits however staying under the million-mark at €848,000.

“Demand for long-term care in Malta is expected to progressively rise in the coming years as the population ages,” Charts said in its analysis.

“According to projections published by the NSO, the percentage of the Maltese population over 60 years of age is expected to increase to 28% by 2020 and to 30% by 2030. In absolute figures, Malta has around 110,000 seniors above the age of 60 and this is expected to grow to over 135,00 by 2030. As a result of this substantial increase in elderly persons, it is envisaged that this will have a material effect on the growth in demand for care and support services provided to this category of the population.”

The MHC Group said it foresees a steady increase in demand for nursing and home carers in the coming years, as well as a growing need for retirement and long-term care homes.

In 2013 it acquired a 4,455 sq.m site in Santa Lucija’s Garnaw valley area with the intention of developing it into a five-storey 300-bed home for the elderly.

MHC said it expects the market for contract catering in Malta to grow further as more hospitals and care homes are developed to meet the needs of Malta’s ageing population.

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Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.