Planning Authority unanimously approves plans for Barts medical school in Gozo

The Planning Authority board this morning approved the full development permission application for the new Barts medical school at the Gozo General Hospital

An early rendition of the proposed project
An early rendition of the proposed project

Planning Authority board this morning unanimously agreed to give the green light to the Barts medical school in Gozo.

The medical school will be developed within the existing Gozo General Hospital building in Rabat, and will cover an approximate footprint area of 2,400 square metres and a gross departmental area of 4,500 square metres, set on four floors.

The application, filed by Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH), proposes the demolition of existing structures within the Gozo General Hospital, and the construction of lecture halls, theatres and classes, seminar rooms, a computer lab, a library, a canteen, meeting rooms, shower and changing facilities for students and staff, and staff offices.

A masterplan for the whole hospital site where VGH plans to build a new general hospital is still under consideration.

The masterplan for the whole site includes a helipad within the hospital precincts. According to the case officer’s report, the current helipad within the hospital will remain functional until the Xewkija helipad has been certified for use.

"The construction management plan states that the existing Xewkija helipad has been refurbished and is currently being certified for use. Due to the high importance of the aerial link for medical services, the decommissioning of the existing helipad will not commence until the Xewkija Helipad is formally certified for such use," the case officer's report read.

PA Board member Ryan Callus expressed concern over the helipad, highlighting that it is used in life and death situations. He appealed to the developers to ensure that the use of the Xewkija helipad will not be a long-term solution, and that a helipad be reintroduced at the Gozo General Hospital site as soon as possible.

During the hearing, the architect argued, however, that the aim was for VGH to use its own helicopter for services and not rely on the AFM helicopter for transferring patients between Malta and Gozo.

The new medical school is expected to start receiving its first 60 students this September, though not in the new building, which will be opened in 2018.

The new Barts campus is expected to cater mainly for international students and will be able to host about 300 trainee doctors by the end of its first five years, while teaching and administrative staff is envisaged to be about 30.

Barts has already issued calls for applications for the first two courses – a one-year foundation course and a five-year bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery. Students are expected to pay €35,000 a year in tuition fees.

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