Did Vitals get three State hospitals for 99 years instead of 30 years?

Valletta – Malta

kurt_sansone

Kurt Sansone

An artist's impression of how St Luke's would look after refurbishment by Vitals: it now transpires the company got the hospital on a 99-year lease

An artist’s impression of how St Luke’s would look after refurbishment by Vitals: it now transpires the company got the hospital on a 99-year lease

Government has always said the concession agreement with Vitals Global Healthcare was for 30 years but media reports now suggest this may have been a 99-year deal with an option for the State to buy back two of the hospitals for €80 million after 30 years.

Vitals Global Healthcare got St Luke’s Hospital on a 99-year concession and the Gozo and Karin Grech hospitals for 30 years, extendable to 99 years, the Times of Malta is reporting.

Until now, the government has always said that the hospitals concession was granted to the company with no background in healthcare on a 30-year concession period. Vitals were selected as preferred bidder in June 2015 and the contract signed in September that year.

The details of the contractual agreement – most of which were blacked out when the contract was tabled in Parliament – that were leaked to the Times of Malta, show how the government could retake the Gozo and Karin Grech hospitals after 30 years, as long as it paid Vitals €80 million.

Last December, the government confirmed that Vitals had entered into an agreement with American firm Steward Healthcare for the sale of the concession agreement.

MaltaToday reported that Vitals ran into difficulties to raise the necessary finance for the project that would see the construction of a new general hospital in Gozo and the renovation of St Luke’s and Karin Grech in Malta.

Parliament is expected to debate the hospitals concession transfer to Steward Healthcare tomorrow. The Opposition had asked for the debate to be held within the parliamentary health committee so as to be able to summon witnesses, however, the government insisted on a debate in the plenary.

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