Over the last few years, Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) have stolen the headlines for the controversial deal that enabled them to take control of three Government hospitals, two in Malta and one in Gozo.
However, many have gone on to criticise the government for letting the private sector take control of healthcare, something that many feel should be fully in the hands of the public sector.
Members of the opposition have been the main critics, with the Nationalist Leader Adrian Delia, saying that the services of the three hospitals were given to unknown people that have no experience in the health sector.
This sparked plenty of debates throughout the years that it has been in place, with one debate in particular at the start of 2018 taking a total of two and a half hours, with this debate focusing on the contract between the Government and VGH.
To make matters worse, VGH has not done enough in the hospital in Gozo to justify their purchase from the Government, with a Nationalist spokesman saying that all VGH had done was demolish a garage for ambulances as well as the canteen, leaving the staff and patients of this hospital without these facilities.
This goes along with the fact that the proposed Barts Medical School in Rabat, Gozo, has been delayed over the last few years, with it set to start its courses in September 2019, around two to three years after it was set to start.
The medical school has been highly controversial ever since the agreement with Malta Enterprise was made back in April 2015.
The main cause of its controversy has been its excruciating number of delays. For most of the time since 2015, the site in which the medical school is set to be fully built, remained a plot that was simply not being developed. The construction process was extremely slow, and in its opening date next September, it will still not be fully completed.
This has led to an agreement being reached with the University of Malta to make use of some of its lecture rooms whilst the Barts school is completed.
The constant halts in development have been caused by VGH failing to honour the obligations that it signed up for in its contract of agreement. Furthermore, instead of taking back what is rightfully theirs, the government decided to allow VGH to sell on its 30-year concession to Steward Health Care, a health care firm from the United States, thus passing on all of its obligations enclosed in the contract to its new owners. Ever since then, VGH has disbanded due to insolvency.
However, this new contract stipulates that although Steward is fully responsible for the construction of the medical school, once the construction is completed, the new campus will be passed on to Barts for free.
Apart from the ongoing works in Gozo, VGH have barely done anything in Malta.
Karin Grech Hospital has been more in the news for the €80 million that VGH are set to receive as concession from the government, rather than for any developments on how it is going to be run.
The only other news that emerged from the hospital in Pietà is that during 2017, it was removing some of the pressure on Mater Dei by taking in some of its patients during a period when there were too many patients and insufficient rooms.
St Luke’s Hospital has barely been mentioned in the news, and the current state of it is ghastly.
When VGH managed to acquire the hospital, there were talks of the healthcare firm refurbishing it and turning it into a “state of the art” hospital, yet nothing has been done since.
Plenty of wards have been left abandoned, leaving a pretty chilling atmosphere around the whole hospital.
Whilst the hospital was replaced by Mater Dei back in 2007, up until 2015, it was still in a better state than it is right now. With this hospital being a National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands, much more respect should be granted to it, with it being a hospital that catered for plenty of infectious diseases during the Second World War, and even later on, when it assumed the role as general hospital.
The way that things have been handled has been shocking to say the least, with there being plenty of errors in both judgement and handling by multiple parties, not just the Government.