[WATCH] Updated | Adrian Delia takes government to court over Vitals hospitals deal

The Opposition leader said that the government has no right to authorise the transfer of the concession, given that Vitals Global Healthcare did not meet its obligations • Adrian Delia asks court to cancel Vitals contract

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia was accompanied by a sizeable group of PN MPs
Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia was accompanied by a sizeable group of PN MPs

Updated with government reaction at 4.25pm

Opposition leader Adrian Delia has filed a court case against the government and Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) asking for the contract to be cancelled and the three hospitals to be returned to the public.

Addressing journalists outside the courts, Delia - who was accompanied by a sizeable group of PN MPs, including former deputy leaders Mario De Marco and Beppe Fenech Adami, as well as MEP Roberta Metsola – said that in his application, he had asked the courts to declare the agreement null and void, given that VGH had failed to adhere to the obligations laid down in the contract. 

The case was filed against the Prime Minister, Vitals Global Healthcare, the Attorney General, the CEO of Malta Industrial Parks Limited and the chairman of the Board of Governors of the Lands Authority and will be heard by judge Silvio Meli.

Delia said that given the breach in the terms of the contract, the government had no right to agree to the concession’s transfer. He pointed out that instead of taking back the hospitals when it became clear that the contract was not going to be honoured, the government had given VGH a chance to sell the property to third parties. “This is why I am in court today and await justice.”

“Where the government falls short, we step in. When we have the strength to bring back something that belongs to the Maltese people, we will not fail to do so,” he said.

The application states that the obligations listed in the contract included, the construction of a state of the art medical school and a medical campus in Malta and Gozo, the construction of a regional primary care hub in the Gozo general hospital and its redevelopment and modernisation.

Moreover, it states that a number of completion milestones, handover plans and design plans were agreed but not reached: Barts college in Gozo was to be running by now, 50 additional beds were to allocated at Karin Grech Hospital, as well as 80 rehabilitation beds in St. Luke’s Hospital.

The application states that the time period in which these were to be completed was not made public “but was certainly before the lapse of three years from the signature of the agreement on 30 November 2015.”

Delia said that not only had these milestones not been reached, but work on their completion had not even started. “Consequently, the reason for which this emphyteutical concession had been granted was not implemented in its essential aspects,” the court application read.

The PN leader said that under the agreement, VGH had the right to assign their obligations to other parties after three years from the date of completion. “Three years have not passed since the signing of this agreement, much less three years from the fulfillment of the milestones associated with the completion of works on the sites and neither have any penalties been paid under the Services Concession Agreement.”

Delia argued that there could be no authorisation of the transfer to third parties.

Any eventual transfer to third parties must ensure that the person being transferred to is a person of good standing and reputation and details of this transfer must be scrutinised by the House of Representatives, Delia said.

Lawyers Edward DeBono and Jason Azzopardi signed the sworn application.

Government reaction

The government accused the Opposition leader of wanting to disrupt the investment by American company Steward Healthcare and deny patients from "world-class hospitals" in Gozo, St Luke's and Karin Grech.

"The Opposition is once again proposing no alternative, with the inevitable conclusion being that the Opposition leader's action is an attack on foreign investment," the government said, adding that Delia was wallowing in negativity that is worse than his predecessor.

The government said it would continue protecting patients' interests "in all fora".