Hospital CEO denies Gozo helicopter could not evacuate cardiac patient

Nationalist MP Chris Said claimed Gozitan man died after Gozo hospital helicopter was delayed due to fault

One of the photos posted by the Gozo General Hospital CEO denying that the helicopter had developed a fault
One of the photos posted by the Gozo General Hospital CEO denying that the helicopter had developed a fault

Gozo hospital authorities are denying claims by a Nationalist MP that a man died due to delays caused by a fault with the Steward Health Care medical evacuation helicopter in Gozo.

Nationalist MP Chris Said alleged on Facebook that Ġuzi Abela, 72, could not be transported to Mater Dei Hospital in Malta in sufficient time for intensive care after suffering a heart attack, because of a fault to the helicopter at the Gozo General Hospital.

“When he was ready for transport they were informed that the helicopter had a fault. This is still there as I write this,” the Gozitan MP wrote on Facebook.

Abela was a well-known personality in Gozo, having served as a cashier for the Soċjetà Filarmonika Leone, of Victoria for a number of years. He was said to have died later at Mater Dei hospital when doctors in Gozo cleared him to be airlifted to Malta.

The allegation was denied by the Gozo hospital CEO Joseph Fenech, who called the statements “untruthful” and intended at alarming Gozitans.

“Certain people never learn before making statements and allegations without making sure that their information is genuine… Their primary objective is to create harm just to score points.”

Fenech attached a number of photos to his Facebook post of the helicopter on the landing strip. He said these had been taken a few minutes after the allegations appeared on social media, and demonstrated a standard airlifting procedure. “These show that [our] helicopter… is primed to cater for emergency services.”

The CEO’s statements were backed by Gozo minister Justyne Caruana, who said the helicopter was on standby for any medical emergency.

Chris Said has spoken out against the privatisation of the Gozo hospital to Steward Health Care, appealing to the government to “wake up” and not to let Gozitan healthcare continue to suffer, and to fight for the renationalisation of the hospital accompanied by investment in the services.

“Each passing day the situation worsens. Every day I hear about cases that would frighten you,” Said said on his Facebook post on the helicopter allegation.

Steward Health Care, which runs Gozo General Hospital, was caught in the midst of accusations by the Nationalist Party against the government ever since it was announced that Gozo General Hospital, Karin Grech Rehabilitation Hospital, and St Luke’s Hospital were leased to Vitals Global Healthcare in a highly controversial agreement. The claims include staff shortages, with the PN’s organ alleging that the hospital has poor care and management conditions. The government has repudiated the majority of these accusations.

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