Nurses’ boss: Steward ‘failed miserably’ to deliver on all hospital projects

MUMN president Paul Pace lambasts Steward Health Care, saying its lack of medical care investment is causing Maltese patients significant suffering

Nurses union boss Paul Pace claims Steward Health Care has not invested in the medical facilities of any hospital entrusted to it
Nurses union boss Paul Pace claims Steward Health Care has not invested in the medical facilities of any hospital entrusted to it

The head of the nurses’ union has slammed American company Steward Health Care for its complete lack of investment in medical care, saying it had failed miserably to deliver on the multi-million concession to run three state hospitals.

Paul Pace, president of the Malta Union for Midwives and Nurses, said that Steward’s drastic failure to deliver in all areas was highlighted by the fact that it had not even managed to complete the refurbishment of the old St Luke’s physiotherapy department, despite promising to have it up and running by the end of October this year.

Steward Health Care took over the running of three of Malta's public hospitals in 2017, after the concession for their maintenance and operation was transferred from Vitals Global Healthcare, the consortium whose bid was originally selected by the government. 

MUMN president Paul Pace
MUMN president Paul Pace

Pace, writing in the Times of Malta, however, lambasted Steward for its lack of initiative.

Since it had taken over, he said, no new hospital was being built in Gozo, Karin Grech Hospital was not being refurbished, no new building was being built in the St Luke’s Hospital area, no upgrading of the new medical school was being undertaken to set up a new nursing campus, and no refurbishment or upgrading was being done to the very old physiotherapy department.

“These are all projects that Steward Health Care had been assignment, but which have all failed miserably,” Pace said.

Although the Maltese government had entrusted it with the refurbishment of the old physiotherapy department at St Luke’s - which had seen no investment in the last 15 years - Steward “did not have the slightest intention of investing [in it],” he said.

The consortium had “boasted” that by August 2019, a foreign contractor would be engaged who would “blitz the place to the ground”, and that Maltese patients would be able to use the new state-of-the-art facilities and services offered by the physiotherapy department by October 2019.

Such timelines were presented to the Health Minister in June, leading MUMN to suspend all industrial action which physiotherapists had taken at the time over the conditions of their department, which they had said was in such poor condition that they couldn’t treat patients properly.

Despite Steward’s promises, the refurbishment did not materialise, with Pace saying the consortium had “failed so drastically in delivering a projects as simple as the refurbishment of the physiotherapy department” that MUMN had to order new industrial action this month.

“Unfortunately, the reality of the situation and the failure of Steward Health Care came back to haunt us,” he said.

Steward insensitivity to patients “makes one wonder” whether it is a reliable partner to trust with medical care, a very sensitive matter, Pace emphasised.

He asked whether Steward, which had been in Malta for two years “with no visibe investment in medical care”, should be the main strategic partner in the sector, when it never maintained its timelines and was insensitive to Maltese patients’ suffering.

“The failure of Steward Health Care to complete one, simple project - as was the refurbishment of the physiotherapy department - makes one wonder about its true intentions,” he said.

Pace went on to urge the government to apply the needed pressure on Steward and to make it shoulder responsibility for the commitments it made.

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