The government will be forking out €1.2 million a year for the next three decades to pay for the new medical school in Gozo to be used by Barts, the Times of Malta is informed.

The renowned British medical school will not be building the facility that will host some 300 medical students but has instead agreed with the government to have the new state-of-the-art facilities built according to their standards with taxpayer money.

Barts will be charging students some €30,000 a year in tuition, leading to degrees in medicine.

Despite signing the agreement in 2015, the government has refused to publish the deal with Barts and the financial terms it includes, having cited “commercially sensitive data”.

However, this newspaper is informed that the government has commissioned Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) to build the facilities for Barts as part of a €2 billion contract for the running of three public health facilities – the Gozo General Hospital, Karin Grech Rehabilitation Hospital and St Luke’s.

Barts was to start operating the new Gozo facility from September 2016

According to the unpublished agreement, the government agreed to pay Vitals Global Healthcare €1.2 million annually for the next 30 years to compensate for the building of the medical school.

So far, both VGH and the government have refused to say how much the medical school facility in Gozo will cost and when it will be ready.

Originally, Barts was to start operating the new Gozo facility from September 2016. However, to date, only excavation work has been done.

The building delays have forced the government to find alternative premises for Barts. A wing at the Gozo sixth form in Victoria was identified and works are being carried out for Barts to hosts students there as from next month.

It is estimated that the refurbishment costs will run into hundreds of thousands of euros paid by the government and Malta Enterprise. The agreement to finance the new Barts facility was part of a global agreement signed by former health minister Konrad Mizzi.

The government has published the Vitals contract but redacted substantial parts of it, keeping all financial arrangements under wraps. Two weeks ago, The Sunday Times of Malta revealed that the government will pay VGH – a private company with no record in the provision of health services – some €188,000 a day to hire 712 beds from the consortium.

Over the span of 30 years – the span of the contract – VGH will receive over €2 billion in payments just for the hiring of beds.

On their part, VGH are obliged to invest some €220 million in their facilities in Gozo and Malta.

The costs for the government are expected to increase exponentially, as the provision of beds does not pay for all services.

According to the unpublished parts of the contract, the government will still have to pay VGH for any ‘additional costs’ per bed, which include any ‘extra’ pharmaceuticals and medicinal supplies used over and above the ‘basic’.

The government has agreed to pay the costs for medicines and supplies over €1.8 million in the case of the Gozo General Hospital and over €300,000 for Karin Grech. No mention of the extra costs are included with regards to St Luke’s.

A government spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that the Gozo facility will be ready for the start of the next academic year and the first 30 Barts students will start in September 2017.

Works at the new medical school building are progressing well, she said. Works were halted due to a find of Roman trenches but have now recommenced with guidance from the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.

ivan.camilleri@timesofmalta.com

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