Gozo helicopter case to be investigated by health ministry

Chris Fearne has asked for an investigation into the case involving a Gozitan patient who died after his transfer to Malta was allegedly delayed when the helicopter malfunctioned

The helicopter operated by Steward Healthcare at the Gozo general hospital: this photo was posted on Facebook by the hospital's CEO Joseph Fenech
The helicopter operated by Steward Healthcare at the Gozo general hospital: this photo was posted on Facebook by the hospital's CEO Joseph Fenech

Chris Fearne has asked the health ministry permanent secretary to investigate claims that a Gozitan patient died after his medical evacuation was delayed by a faulty helicopter. 

The claims were made over the weekend by Nationalist MP Chris Said and denied by the Gozo hospital authorities.

The Gozo hospital and the helicopter used for medical evactuations are operated by Steward Healthcare, a private company.

The deputy prime minister told MaltaToday that on Monday morning he asked health ministry permanent secretary Joseph Rapa to investigate the claims.

“I was given an explanation by Steward of how things developed but this morning I asked the permanent secretary to investigate the incident,” Fearne said when asked whether he was satisfied with the public explanations given by the Gozo hospital’s management.

READ ALSO: Hospital CEO denies Gozo helicopter could not evacuate cardiac patient

Said alleged on Facebook that the patient could not be transported to Mater Dei Hospital in Malta in sufficient time for intensive care after suffering a heart attack, because of a fault to the helicopter at the Gozo General Hospital.

“When he was ready for transport they were informed that the helicopter had a fault. This is still there as I write this,” the Gozitan MP wrote on Facebook last Friday.

The allegation was denied by the Gozo hospital CEO Joseph Fenech, who called the statements “untruthful” and intended at alarming Gozitans.

“Certain people never learn before making statements and allegations without making sure that their information is genuine… Their primary objective is to create harm just to score points.”

Fenech attached a number of photos to his Facebook post of the helicopter on the landing strip. He said these had been taken a few minutes after the allegations appeared on social media, and demonstrated a standard airlifting procedure. “These show that [our] helicopter… is primed to cater for emergency services.”

The patient was said to have died later at Mater Dei hospital when doctors in Gozo cleared him to be airlifted to Malta.

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