‘Patients dying in MIU6’ as Steward deal ‘drained all the money’ – nurses union

Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses president Paul Pace said that the fraudulent Vitals-Steward hospitals deal “drained all the money”, leaving “patients dying in the halls, corridors and canteen” of Mater Dei Hospital when contacted by The Shift.

Shadow Health Minister Stephen Spiteri similarly warned of a “deteriorating health sector” with “no adequate infrastructure,” spiralling co-morbidity rates and a lack of human resources leading to “a huge decrease in quality” within the public health sector.

Mater Dei Hospital has been experiencing continued space and human resource issues that have resulted in the use of makeshift, supposedly temporary wards such as MIU6 for years despite “camping site” conditions, privacy and safety issues.

The Vitals-Steward hospitals deal, which the court rescinded and ruled to have been “fraudulent” from the outset, was meant to improve the overall health infrastructure through the refurbishment and upgrading of St Luke’s Hospital, Karin Grech Hospital and Gozo General Hospital.

Unpartitioned beds lacking privacy line the MIU6 at Mater Dei Hospital

When asked about the situation at the stop-gap ward, Pace lamented Health Minister Chris Fearne’s attacks on the MUMN last November, when he blamed the shortage of beds at Mater Dei on nurses’ industrial action.

He said that the real issue was a “lack of vision” from the government, whose Vitals-Steward dealings left “repercussions all over the health sector” as the public-private partnership “drained all the money” as it was “being taken by VGH (and Steward Health Care)”.

“Joseph Muscat’s seven years (in office) saw the health sector remaining stagnant,” he said. “It was a scam, nothing came by coincidence” he added, pointing out that despite the current government’s self-victimisation efforts, “the actual victims are the patients dying in MIU6”.

He explained how the ward was initially set up before the Covid-19 pandemic when resources at the hospital had already reached a “saturation point” but that it continued to be used given the hospital’s severe shortages.

Spiteri similarly pointed to a “lack of vision,” explaining how Steward’s failure to meet its contractual obligations led to a “domino effect” in which the “services do not cope with the demand”.

He described how under-resourcing left ancillary health facilities such as Mount Carmel Hospital without their promised refurbishment, “practically leaving 80% of it in an uninhabitable state”.

Spiteri explained how elective orthopaedic surgeries take two to three years to be performed, and that emergency trauma is in an even more dire state.

Mobile showers and unpartitioned hospital beds continue to line Mater Dei’s halls and corridors – Photo: Facebook/Arnold Cassola

The delays and lack of resources lead to “many preventable deaths”, with Spiteri describing how he has come across examples of “80-year-olds being told to fast before surgery, only to have the procedure deferred”, leaving them in a frail state or in some cases as victims of co-morbidity – death due to additional arising complications.

Spiteri said he was not surprised at “the anger arising from hospital workers”, saying that many professionals in the Maltese health service are simply “burnt out”. He described how in some cases, ITU nurses have to contend with two people at a time when they are meant to take care of patients on a one-on-one basis.

Pace described nurses’ recent industrial action as a “100% success”, with more than 4,000 workers having participated following unsatisfactory sectoral agreements with the government which “demoralized and humiliated the entire nursing and midwifery workforce”.

Stressing that the MUMN had ensured its “industrial action did not affect essential services” and that it had kept the affected patients in mind, he warned the saga is “far from over”.

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Paul Pullicino
Paul Pullicino
2 months ago

We built a public hospital to cater for a stable population of 400,000 plus. Then the population was increased by 25% in a few short years as part of a new greed economy. To add to the misery, we gave the other hospitals over to a couple of international fraudsters who invested absolutely nothing into the health system for eight long years as Labour pumped them with millions without ever auditing or caring where and to whom the money went. Some even ended up going to Switzerland and returning to Malta to Muscat the day the genius resigned and placed Abela in his stead.

Francis Said
Francis Said
2 months ago

But there is more than enough funds to offer outrageous salaries and perks for persons of trust and friends of friends. Notwithstanding that these do not have the necessary experience, qualifications and an ounce of ethical standards.
The who you know is more relevant and important than what you know.

2 months ago

I wonder what the relatives of those who died because of the conditions mentioned in this article have to say about all that.

For all that the PL got a third landslide victory in the past GE. Looks like all the issues of the recent past are now coming to the fore, since this contract has been rescinded and form the bigger picture when thinking of articles from the past couple of years which just highlighted some parts of the whole misery when Nurses went on strike.

I often noticed in some comments by PLers that the social (money more like to be precise) aspect was the main reason for why the PN isn’t trusted because from past experiences when they were in govt, they showed a lack of that in such regards. The article gives a picture that would even make the most ultra-conservatives look like social workers.

This is just another proof of how the PL values human life.But still, they have the support from at least around 52% of the voters. What a facade of a party, always polished by their (expensive) propaganda and what a toxic swamp behind it, by the result of their way of doing politics.

Where is the solidarity with the Nurses and the Midwives from the PL? Non-existing! Where is the humanity in the PL? Only existing for PLers, or also restricted to PL voters only. This is how it really looks to me.

Marcus Bonello
Marcus Bonello
2 months ago

All those involved in this heist , and I mean all, should be paraded in Republic street for a good pelting of rotten vegetables on their way to court. And of course indebted for their entire life and family tree with interest to the nation.

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