An “incomplete” application for a master plan covering the building of a new hospital in Gozo and the refurbishment of the existing one no longer appears on the Planning Authority public database, the Times of Malta has learnt.

According to the controversial public private partnership agreement signed by the government in 2015, Steward Health Care had to complete the building of a new hospital by May 2018 and the refurbishment of the current one, four months later. However, milestones set in the deal have still to be reached and development plans on the projected works still in an embryonic stage.

Confirming the delays in the delivery of the projects, the planning watchdog recently removed from its public database all details of the application, which it considers to still be incomplete.

“The Gozo hospitals plan is not yet considered an application in that it is related to a screening request,” a Planning Authority spokesman said.

“If/once the applicant (Steward) completes the application as requested in the screening letter of the Planning Authority, the application will be published and made available to the public,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Steward, however, disagreed. “The application is still active and Steward Malta will continue to work with the Planning Authority as the project developers,” she said.

Questions on a timeline set by Steward to meet its commitments according to the multi-million euro deal remained unanswered.

30-year deal

The 30-year privatisation deal also obliged the private concessionaire to provide a new medical school in Gozo, which Barts was expected to start using in July 2017. Works on the medical school are now in an advanced stage and the building is expected to be delivered in September.

The deal also covers Karin Grech and St Luke’s Hospitals, which had to be delivered by mid-2017.

According to the agreement, the government would be forking out more than €2 billion until 2045 to ‘lease’ beds to be used by the public in the new Stewards facilities.

The deal had originally been struck with Vitals Global Healthcare, which had found itself in financial difficulties and sold the concession to Stewards. The transfer was approved by the government.

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