Vitals Global Healthcare’s partner has still to fully understand the details of the 30-year concession sale agreement with Malta, a spokesman said.
The concession to run three State hospitals in Malta was sold to Steward Healthcare and sealed on December 20, but a spokesman for Boston-based Partners HealthCare International said the company “expects to better understand the details of the agreement in the coming weeks”.
When announcing the partnership between Vitals and Partners in November 2015, then Health Minister Konrad Mizzi said the US company was roped in to assist Vitals in “enhancing healthcare services and clinical education in Malta”.
Partners was asked when it had been informed about the deal with Steward and whether this was after Vitals had already sold the concession, but the spokesman would not comment at this stage. Neither would he say it was considering pulling out of the agreement it had with Vitals now that Steward had taken over the concession.
Enhancing healthcare services and clinical education in Malta
Though the government said it had known about Vitals’s intention to sell the concession since September, the announcement, made just days before Christmas, that Steward would be running Karin Grech, St Luke’s and Gozo General hospitals came as a surprise to many, including those working in the health sector.
The sale, just 21 months after Vitals signed the controversial agreement through which taxpayers would pay €2.1 billion for medical services, raised questions, especially following comments by Health Minister Chris Fearne that the new operator was “the real thing” and that this was a “business-to-business” transaction.
When announcing the deal with Steward, the government said that all agreements it and medical professionals had with Vitals would be honoured.
No further details have been given so far.
Following intense pressure by the Opposition, in 2016, the government tabled a heavily redacted copy of the contract it had with Vitals.
Mr Fearne had said the blacked-out sections contained commercially-sensitive clauses.
The Sunday Times of Malta has since reported that the clauses edited out included details on rigid time frames for major milestones Vitals had to reach and the price the company paid for the contents of the hospitals.
It also emerged that the company paid €1 for what was inside the three hospitals.