The announcement by the government on 21 December welcoming the agreement between Vitals Global Healthcare and Steward Healthcare on the hospitals’ concession has now been put into question after a VGH spokesperson said the company was still “in negotiations” on the deal.
When The Shift sent questions to Vitals on the impact of the deal, the company’s Head of Communications and Marketing Alessandra Pace, said: “VGH is presently in negotiations with Steward Healthcare for the latter to come in as a strategic investor in the Malta healthcare concession”.
When pressed on why VGH was still in negotiations when the announcement gave the impression that the agreement had been signed, she replied: “VGH confirms that it is presently in negotiations with Steward Healthcare in accordance with the terms of the agreement entered into between the parties”.
A government statement issued on 21 Dec states: “The Government welcomes the agreement signed between Vitals Global Healthcare and leading United States-based healthcare operator Steward Health Care”.
Vitals Global Healthcare, the company which was entrusted with the provision of healthcare services through the Gozo, Karin Grech and St Luke’s hospitals, has supposedly sold its concession only 21 months after securing a deal with the Maltese government, according to initial reports in Lovin Malta and Malta Today.
The government followed with a press conference by Health Minister Chris Fearne saying the government was satisfied with the deal even though the partners involved are still evaluating the details.
The Shift contacted VGH because Maltese suppliers who were owed tens of thousands of euro by the company told this news portal they were concerned they would not be paid.
“VGH confirms that irrespective of a change in shareholding, all of VGH’s obligations will be satisfied. Once the details are finalised VGH will share information as appropriate with all of the vendors and suppliers,” Pace said, confirming the deal has not yet been finalised.
The Shift had reported the announcement on the sale of hospitals’ concession was made a few days before EU anti-money laundering laws came into force. The EU directives against money laundering oblige companies to make their owners known, as from 1 January 2018.
Socialist MEP Ana Gomes, who hails from the same political grouping as the Malta Labour Party in the European Parliament, had described the deal as “outrageous” and questioned Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s socialist credentials.