The owner of St Philip’s Hospital, a former private hospital in Santa Venera, said he is ready to refurbish the building within eight weeks and lease it out to the government for the treatment of COVID-19 patients on a non-profit basis.
“We do this because I have always believed that patients come before politics and that is the only condition we make,” Frank Portelli, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2017 PN leadership election, said. “Keep patients before politics.”
Portelli made this announcement in light of a tender issued by the Health Ministry yesterday for the purchase and installation of a prefabricated hospital that is capable to cater for over 90 patients and staff. The winning bidder must commit to completing the prefabricated hospital within eight weeks of the contract being awarded to them.
Prime Minister Robert Abela said that although it’s possible that the number of COVID-19 patients in Malta will never reach a point that would necessitate the use of this prefabricated hospital, he didn’t want to take that chance.
Now Portelli has come up with an alternative, stating he can refurbish St Philip’s Hospital within eight weeks to treat up to 120 patients and that the hospital facilities can be extended to cater for 300 beds within another eight weeks.
He said the lease agreement should be based on the framework of a previous lease agreement he had struck with the government back in 2012 which ended up falling through, adjusted as per the cost of living and property values.
Portelli said that although he considers the government’s reneging of the deal as a breach of contract, he is willing to enter a similar deal for the sake of COVID-19 patients.
The government will be able to refurbish the hospital against a cost, but not at profit to the hospital owners.