Updated | Gozo hospital helicopter inquiry finds no fault but will not be published

Health Ministry says an independent board established there was no failure in the helicopter service at Gozo Hospital after allegations that a heart patient died because he could not be transferred to Malta on time

Nationalist MP Chris Said had claimed that a faulty helicopter led to the death of a Gozitan cardiac patient
Nationalist MP Chris Said had claimed that a faulty helicopter led to the death of a Gozitan cardiac patient

Updated at 7pm with PN MP Chris Said reaction

An inquiry into allegations that a faulty helicopter was to blame for the death of a heart patient at Gozo General Hospital has concluded otherwise.

The result of the inquiry was communicated this afternoon by the office of Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, who is also health minister.

However, the inquiry was not published and the statement only quoted a paragraph from its conclusions.

The part quoted by the ministry read: “The procedures followed were in line with established normal practice and protocols. No difficulties were encountered during the transfer of the patient from GGH to MDH. The patient was only transferred to MDH once the attending physician considered that it was safe to do so. The air ambulance helicopter was available when a decision was taken that the patient needed transfer to MDH.”

PN MP Chris Said, who had flagged the incident back in August, has described the inquiry as "a farce".

The case concerns an incident that happened on 24 August at the Gozo General Hospital, when it was alleged that an elderly heart patient could not be transferred to Malta because the helicopter in Gozo malfunctioned.

READ ALSO: Gozitan cardiac patient died because of helicopter delay, MP insists

The Gozo hospital is run by Steward Healthcare. The company also runs the helicopter service for transfer of patients to Malta.

Fearne had tasked the permanent secretary to conduct an inquiry into the case. The ministry said an "independent board” led by professor Joe Cacciattolo was set up to investigate the matter.

It is unclear what other findings the board made but the ministry statement cryptically said that the “arrangement between the Gozo hospital and the Gozo Channel company was one based on traditional practice and recommended that the transfer of ambulances by ship be formalised.”

Fearne told MaltaToday that the ministry “does not normally publish inquiries which involve patients due to data protection”.

He insisted that the statement quoted from the inquiry conclusions “word for word”.

READ ALSO: Not all that glitters is gold in Gozitan healthcare

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