Unions urge publication, audit of hospital privatisation contracts

Confederation of Malta Trade Unions calls on NAO to investigate all agreements between government and Vitalis Global Healthcare 

The Confederation of Malta Trade Unions has urged the government to publish all contracts related to the partial privatisation of St Luke’s Hospital, the Gozo General Hospital and the Karin Grech Hospital.

The CMTU also called for an audit by the National Audit Office on the government’s agreements – including those that have not yet been finalized - with Vitalis Global Healthcare, the winning bidder for the €200 million project.

“We call for an independent audit into the agreements between [the government and Vitalis] so that we can be ensured that due diligence was carried out for the sake of the hospital workers and Maltese patients,” the CMTU said in a statement.

It added that two of its affiliate union members – the Union Haddiema Maghqudin and the Malta Medical Association – are ready to publish its respective draft collective agreements with Vitalis for full auditing and scrutiny.

“Publishing and auditing the agreement will put people’s minds at rest, and serve as an example of good governance as a basis for other future agreements.”

The CMTU is composed of the Union Haddiema Maghqudin, the Malta Medical Association, the Malta Union of Bank Employees, the Lotto Receivers’ Union, the Malta Chamber of Pharmacists, and the Malta Union of Professional Psychologists. 

Singapore-based Vitalis Global Healthcare were in June announced as the preferred bidders for the massive project – that includes beds at the three hospitals for medical tourism purposes and a new medical school in Gozo. However, health minister Konrad Mizzi has so far resisted calls to publish the government’s agreements with the company.

He has repeatedly insisted that healthcare for Maltese patients will remain free of charge at these three hospitals, that hospital workers will retain their government employment with the exact same wages and conditions, and that future collective agreements will be negotiated between government and the respective unions.

The Nationalist Party in a statement backed the CMTU’s calls, and urged the government to also publish its agreements related to energy and oil.  

“[PN leader] Simon Busuttil had called for the publication of all the contracts that Konrad Mizzi and [OPM chief of staff] Keith Schembri were involved in,” the PN said. “Muscat, Mizzi and Schembri have a lot to answer for.”