Hospital owner says deal is valid
‘Deal should be concluded as we have a valid contract’
The owner of St Philip’s, Frank Portelli, is insisting the Government should plough ahead and sign a €12 million deal for the lease of his Santa Venera hospital in spite of opposition from Labour and two Government backbenchers.
“Though I don’t have any objection to the scrutiny of the PAC, we negotiated and agreed with the Government and not with the PAC. Therefore, we insist that we have a valid contract,” Dr Portelli told The Times yesterday.
Surprised at recent criticism of the deal, the outspoken surgeon had strong words for those who he said are trying to undermine the agreement.
“Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando and Franco Debono are transferring their hate towards Richard Cachia Caruana onto me. They know I’m Richard’s friend and so they want to punish me,” he said.
Dr Portelli said he is even more surprised with Labour’s reaction
“Until a few weeks ago, Labour was giving me the impression that if they are in government, they will want to work with St Philip’s through a Public Private Partnership. What happened to this and why are they changing their tune?” Dr Portelli said.
Defending the deal, Dr Portelli said negotiations between a team of professionals representing his hospital and the Government had been ongoing for two-and-a-half years and a preliminary agreement had already been reached in August 2011.
Dr Portelli said the deal struck means the Government will have an extra 100 beds at just €20 a day per bed. He said the original value of the hospital, as evaluated by a government architect, was €16 million and the Government negotiated the price down.
Asked whether this means he had made a bad deal, Dr Portelli said he had struck a fair arrangement which would solve the Government’s problems with lack of space at Mater Dei.
“Labour has been criticising the Government over the lack of space at Mater Dei for a long time. Now it is criticising the Government for finding a solution,” he argued.
The deal also solves serious financial problems that the hospital ran into before having to shut its doors some years back.
The Times asked to be given a tour of the hospital.
However, Dr Portelli declined, saying he would only offer a tour once he had a date for the signing of the contract.
Following the Government’s announcement of the deal, backbencher Franco Debono, who has opposed most government moves since Parliament rose from recess, tabled a motion in Parliament calling for the agreement to be scrutinised by Parliament before being signed.
Both Labour and Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando agreed that this should be the way forward. Until now, the Government has not commented on whether it will postpone the signing of this agreement.