Hospital privatisation has led to public receiving inadequate service - PD

Partit Demokratiku has said that it was always against the ‘complete takeover’ of three of Malta’s public hospitals

The Democratic Party said that the nation had not gotten a good deal from the Vitals concession
The Democratic Party said that the nation had not gotten a good deal from the Vitals concession

A concession set up by the government for the private sector to take over the operation of three of the country’s public hospitals has resulted in a public which is not being adequately served, according to the Democratic Party. 

Back in 2016, the government signed a concession agreement with Vitals Global Healthcare for it to operate St Luke’s, Karin Grech and Gozo General hospitals.

The concession was transferred to US healthcare giant Steward Health Care two years later, with VGH having failed to meet a number of targets laid out in its agreement with the government.

“The Vitals deal has proven to be a bad deal,” the PD said, insisting that the party had been against what it described as the “incredible consent of OPM Castille to the complete takeover” of the hospitals.

“There is more to this than meets the eye. Who is accountable for the mess?”

The deal, the PD said, was a bad one because it was against the public interest and was based on “pro-shady business deals”.

“PD notes that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health Dr Chris Fearne has always distanced himself from the OPM-Vitals deal, to the extent that he re-negotiated a fresh understanding with Steward Health Care,” the party said in a statement. 

Despite the hospitals having changed hands, PD MEP candidate Anthony Buttigieg said the nation was still “in for a bumpy ride”.

“The way the Gozo General Hospital is run is delivering a healthcare serice that falls short of the public’s needs,” Buttigieg said.

“Healthcare personnel at this hospital are at a loss who to turn to. Is it the ministry or Steward Heath Care? They cannot make heads or tails.”

PD leader Godfrey Farrugia stressed that no matter how strong a nation’s economy is, free healthcare provision “may be a bottomless pit if caution is not guaranteed”.

“The public-private partnership does not give us reassurance. A National Health Care System Strategy has to be addressed by robust projections,” Farrugia, a former health minister himself, said.

The PD said the public purse had been depleted without the promised results being realized. “Our legislative framework is proving to be permeable when it comes to enforcing transparency and accountable measures.”

The PD said it believed that the country’s politics “needs to be fire-up by honourable intentions” for any legal framework to serve its purpose.

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