The government said it is ready to immediately take over the running of hospitals administered by Steward Health Care after the company "abandoned" its operations.

The US company earlier on Thursday said it had given notice of termination of its concession agreement while lashing out at the government for not keeping promises and obligations.

It said it would ensure that there was an orderly transition of the management of its operations and would work with the relevant authorities in good faith to ensure this was finalised in a reasonable timeframe.

A court last week annulled the concession agreement after finding fraud. Steward appealed the decision on Wednesday.

In a short statement, the government said it "absolutely disagreed" with Steward Health Care's claims and would respond in the appropriate fora.

But it said the health authorities were in a position to immediately run the hospitals, guaranteeing the high level of treatment patients expected, and also guaranteeing jobs.  

Last month, Times of Malta also reported that the government had a shadow team in place to take over the running of the three hospitals administered by Steward Healthcare.

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