The government’s plan to enter into a public-private partnership in major areas of the national health service – running the Gozo, Karin Grech and St Luke’s hospitals – has attracted three bids.

However, so far, no details were given about those behind the bids and what experience they have in running health services.

The three bids were opened yesterday during a public session organised by Projects Malta, a government agency tasked with managing private-public partnerships.

When the tender box was opened, company secretary Aaron Mifsud Bonnici announced that a total of three offers had been submitted. At first, he refused to give the names of the bidders, saying these had still to be seen by the evaluation committee.

When Times of Malta pointed out that, according to the provisions of the Request for Proposals procedure, the bids should be opened in public, Dr Mifsud Bonnici proceeded to mention the names: Vitalis Global Healthcare Ltd/Bluestone, Image Hospitals, and BSP Investments Ltd.

The offer is for a services concession for the redevelopment, maintenance, management and operation of (former) St Luke’s Hospital, Karin Grech Rehabilitation Hospital and the Gozo General Hospital.

The process would now start to choose a preferred bidder

Preliminary research by Times of Malta shows that the main investors in the Vitalis Global Healthcare Ltd/Bluestone bid – by far the most voluminous and detailed of the three submissions – is a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. It is controlled by Mark Pawley, a British financial agent operating in Singapore and Sri Ram Tumuluri, a Canadian citizen of Indian origin.

BSP Investors Ltd is a fully-owned Maltese company with Christopher Baldacchino and Fourth–C Services Ltd as shareholders.

No information was found about the investors behind Image Hospitals.

The Ministry for Energy and Health was asked for more details about the bidders but no reply was forthcoming at the time of writing. However, in a statement, Health and Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi welcomed the bids, which, he said, would ensure Malta’s health services made the leap into the 21st century.

Dr Mizzi said the process would now start to choose a preferred bidder.

This private-public partnership in the national healthcare system was first announced at the end of March when a memorandum of understanding was signed by the government and Barts, a faculty within Queen Mary University of London, to open a medical school in Gozo.

It is not yet known how the PPP will work.

According to information given by the government so far, the aim is to give public land and buildings in Gozo and St Luke’s on concession to the investors. On their part, the investors would have to build a new medical campus for Barts and a new hospital in Gozo, refurbish St Luke’s and offer some of the beds in their new facilities to the public.

The government will buy additional health services from the private sector. More details on the plan are expected to be given in the coming weeks.

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