When the press arrived for the opening of a private hospital in Qormi yesterday, they wondered for a minute if they had the correct address.

It will focus on the most common health problems of the Maltese people

The building looked like a work-in-progress: there were no railings, no light fittings, no equipment, no partitions and no beds.

“This is just soft opening,” said director Ryan Buhagiar.

Hospital owner Louis Buhagiar, a former Labour MP, said St Thomas’ Hospital is expected to be operational within six months.

“However, the blood-testing laboratory is expected to be up and running in the coming days,” he said.

According to its owners, the €5 million “boutique hospital” will include state-of-the-art equipment that is unique to Malta – including the most advanced CT scanner available on the island.

“This will be so sensitive that consultants can see blocked arteries in the heart without the need for surgery,” said Ryan Buhagiar.

In the laboratory, a new form of blood test – CRP – will be able to predict if a patient is about to have a heart attack. “There is no other test like it in Malta at the moment,” said Dr Buhagiar.

The hospital will include 30 beds for medical and surgical care; two operating theatres; 13 outpatients’ clinics; blood testing lab; an emergency department for minor accidents; an ophthalmology section and a radiology department.

“This will be a bridge between primary health centre and Mater Dei and it will focus on the most common health problems of the Maltese people,” said Dr Buhagiar.

Prior to touring the site, Health Minister Joe Cassar thanked the Buhagiar family for taking on the project.

“Dr Buhagiar felt that the situation in Malta is economically strong enough for him to take up this investment,” he said.

This meant, he stressed, that the Government was offering “a sound financial structure for investment”.

Dr Cassar said small hospitals like these helped to relieve the pressure on the public services.

The minister explained the culture of flocking to Mater Dei’s emergency department at the weekend has to change.

“When we offer to take waiting patients to a private hospital where they will skip the queue and be treated for free, they still refuse. This mentality has to change,” he said.

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