Ministers have been presented with plans to take back control of the three state hospitals that were handed over to US healthcare giant Steward. 

Government sources confirmed that cabinet was given a lengthy presentation by Heath Minister Chris Fearne and Finance Minister Clyde Caruana last month about plans to redraft the government’s hospitals agreement.   

If agreed, the plan would see Malta take back control of the St Luke’s, Karin Grech, and Gozo hospitals.  

Steward Healthcare, the US giant running the three hospitals, will be responsible for maintaining and equipping the hospitals.  The deal is expected to cost the tax payer tens of millions of euros. 

Government sources said negotiations with Steward had been ongoing for several months and are now at an advanced stage, however they are yet to agree on the finishing details. 

Details of the hospitals plan were also reported by MaltaToday on Sunday.  

Last month Clyde Caruana told Times of Malta the government was weeks away from reaching a new deal with Steward. 

There have long been calls for the termination of the 30-year agreement under which, in 2016, the government transferred the three hospitals to mystery company Vitals Global Healthcare.

Vitals subsequently transferred the concession to US group Steward Health Care in 2018 after facing financial difficulties. The former had failed to deliver on its contractual commitments, which included investing €200 million in new medical facilities.

The original hospitals deal, signed by former minister Konrad Mizzi, was also the subject of an in-depth review by the Auditor General which found evidence of collusion.  

An inquiry in the courts, sparked by NGO Repubblika, is under way and another court case against the government instituted by Opposition leader Adrian Delia, asking for the concession agreement to be rescinded, is pending.

The future of the concession agreement has long been in doubt with Steward repeatedly calling on the government to renegotiate the terms of the deal, saying that in its current state, the project was “unbankable”.

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