Three public hospitals are transferring to private owners, with beds for medical tourists in two of them.
Gozo, St Luke’s and Karin Grech hospitals are moving from being public hospitals to private ones owned by Vitals Global Healthcare, a company that is injecting €220 million in a total revamp of the three hospitals in return for a 30 year concession. Partners Healthcare International, a US-based company that runs hospitals, will manage them.
The government buys a number of beds each year from VGH to be used by the public healthcare service. Maltese patients sent to the hospitals as part of the National Health Service will not pay.
After the revamp Gozo Hospital will have 450 beds. Of these, 250 will be acute beds and 200 for geriatric and long-term cases. Gozo hospital will have the potential of adding 100 beds in the future. The hospital grounds will also include the Barts medical school, which should be opening its doors in September 2017.
St Luke’s Hospital will undergo extensive refurbishment works to transform the existing wards into single or double-bed rooms, and will have 350 beds, of which 150 are rehabilitation and 200 acute medical care. A new rehabilitation centre, offering the latest test facilities and technology in rehabilitation services, is planned. The dermatology department will be relocated from Sir Paul Boffa Hospital to St Luke’s.
Karin Grech will have 320 beds, which will all be contracted by the government to be used for geriatric care.
VGH will seek to attract medical tourism to the island, with 125 beds in Gozo Hospital and 250 in St Lukes available for medical tourists. Key target countries will be the UK and Italy, but as the hospitals may not offer cosmetic surgery, the main draw for medical tourists. VGH has not explained why they think they can attract medical tourists, when various official promotions were costly failures, and while successful in health tourism, Malta is still developing it’s medical tourism sector.