1 February 2022
Steward Health Care International strongly denies Malta Today’s allegations on Barts Campus sale

Malta Today misleads the public with its reporting on an MOU that was never signed nor executed.

Steward Health Care International will defend its actions, standing up for patient safety and protecting the public’s confidence in Malta’s health care system.

01 February 2022: Steward Health Care International (SHCI), the parent company of Steward Health Care Malta (SHCM), has long stayed quiet in the face of inaccurate reporting on its concession in Malta for the sake of our patients, focusing instead on our core mission: to deliver quality healthcare to the communities we serve.

However, SHCI forcefully disputes the inaccurate article by Malta Today published on 30 January 2022, after it knowingly published a series of false and misleading claims about the company and an unsigned, draft MOU that was never executed much less pursued. The claims in the article are plainly intended to undermine the public’s confidence in its health care system as well as damage the company’s standing in Malta and abroad.[1]

SHCI believes that this article wholly misrepresents the facts of the matter and was written to suit an ulterior agenda against SHCI, which was not even approached to comment on the story or to verify facts.

The MOU in question was never signed nor executed, a key fact ignored in the story. The draft MOU represented an attempt by SHCI to assist with the complete renegotiation and professionalisation of the terms of the hospital concession. The original terms have been described by the Government of Malta itself, the EU and the National Audit Office as “unbankable”, not based on correct information, and not fit for purpose. Indeed, had the MOU been agreed to by the previous government, there would be a bankable concession in place that does not violate EU requirements for public-private partnerships (PPPs) and the facilities would be nearing completion. Malta Today also omits the clear benefits to the Maltese people intended by the draft MOU, which was discussed in good faith.

The unsigned MOU suggested multiple alternative methods of converting the concession into an agreement that would work for the people of Malta. A potential deal to sell portions of the leasehold of the London based Barts Medical School to a leading US real estate company, Medical Properties Trust (MPT) – with the Government, importantly, maintaining ownership and oversight of the medical school – was one option raised but never pursued. This opportunity, which was heavily supported by the Government, Malta Enterprise, and the Bank of Valletta at the time, would have brought foreign direct investment to Malta, improved the standing of the financial institutions involved and boosted the local economy.

The article wrongly claims that SHCI would ‘hive off’ the campus. This is patently false. At no point would the Government of Malta forfeit ownership of any aspect of the concession, including the Barts Medical School, as described in the article. On the contrary, the overriding purpose of the draft MOU was to ensure the ongoing scrutiny and retention of oversight by the Government over the activities at the Barts Medical School, while freeing up working capital to invest in the operations of the concession and deliver for patients. The way the article was written, leaves the reader with a false impression of the realities of the opportunity and the intentions of SHCI.

Malta Today’s failure to verify basic facts for this article resulted in the publication of several other inaccuracies. Neither SHCI nor SHCM have any current commercial connection to MPT, nor any legal connection to Steward operations in the US. As such the link to MPT as depicted in the article is completely false.

Similarly, the fact that the concession was considered ‘unbankable’, requiring capital infusions, and not fit for purpose by international institutions rendered the Maltese concession of no financial value. Hence, the $200m sale the article refers to was in no way for the Malta concession, which was carved out as a loss-leading operation requiring further capital infusions. Malta Today’s conflation of the two is intended to mislead.

Such false allegations undermine the public’s confidence in Malta’s health care system and intentionally interfere with the company’s ability, both in Malta and internationally – to improve patient access to quality healthcare across the communities we serve.

SHCI will reserve its rights to pursue all legal options available to it in response to such allegations, and will take all other steps necessary to protect its position.

[1] Source: Malta Today

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