Fed up of the secrecy surrounding the impending transfer of three Maltese hospitals to US healthcare giant Steward Health Care, the Malta Medical Association has ordered unspecified industrial action amongst doctors.
The MAM’s decision comes as Vitals Global Healthcare starts the process of transferring the St Luke’s, Gozo and Karin Grech hospitals to Steward – a mere two years after it was awarded a 30-year concession.
“No, we will not meet with Steward. We are being kept in the dark, we must see the contract signed between the company and government and be informed of what is going on,” MAM secretary general Martin Balzan told The Times of Malta. “At the moment it appears as though the deal is bad news.”
The details of the industrial action, set to commence on 5th February, have not been specified, but MAM is keeping open the possibility of a full-blown doctors’ strike – in what will give off echoes of the 1970s.
The MAM is arguing that the entire Steward-Vitals transfer flies in the face of its collective agreement with the government, which specifies government must give MAM at least six weeks’ prior notice before privatising or partially privatising medical services.
It is also calling on the government to re-nationalise the St Luke’s, Karin Grech and Gozo hospitals “in the national interest” and on the MFSA to investigate what became of the €60 million the government had passed on to Vitals throughout the duration of the deal.