6 NOVEMBER 2002
By Ray Abdilla
While the Mater Dei hospital is costing millions to build and will continue to absorb funds while it's operational, with the new structures in place it would be more financially viable than its predecessor. This will be partly due to the fact that administration wise it is expected to be better equipped to monitor costings and ensure that every penny spent will be for good measure.
Furthermore, the way in which technology has improved over the last few years makes it more possible for the government or better the Foundation for Medical Services to see that there will be no waste of financial resources.
Minister of Health Dr Louis Deguara told The Malta Financial and Business Times yesterday that by the end of this year the government will have forked out Lm93 million for structural work in what is considered the biggest structure that is being built in Europe today.
The idea for a new hospital was already being discussed in the early 1990s. The idea was to build a centre of excellence to complement the 70-year old St Luke's general acute hospital which was to undergo an extensive programme of refurbishment.
"The 850 bed, state of the art specialised hospital will be the new general hospital and will be more than enough even though at St Luke's the number of patients sometimes reaches the 1,000 mark. The new one will not generate problems as the pre-accession system will be monitored better with patients having to stay at the hospital far less than they are doing today.
"Meanwhile, structure-wise the hospital could also expand without having to increase the height of it. So in 30 or 40 years time if the government sees fit to enlarge such a project he would do so without any trouble," Minister Deguara said.
Regarding the St Luke's hospital this will eventually become as an old people' s home with different characteristics than that of St Vincent de Paule. This will change gradually as at first both hospitals will compliment each other with the first in-patients being received at Mater Dei starting from mid 2005.
The initial and conceptual preparations for the new hospital started in the early 1990s. The first agreements between the Maltese Government and the Fondazione Centro S. Romanello Del Monte Tabor were entered into in December 1990. The agreement provided a framework for the general expert assistance in the health planning of the New Hospital. The Foundation for Medical Services (FMS) originally known as the Foundation for Medical Sciences and Services (FMSS) was also set up in December 1990. Eventually, the design work started in 1993 by Ortesa Spa and the construction in 1995 by Skanska Malta J.V.
Due to a change in Government in 1996 the feasibility of the whole project was reconsidered. Eventually it was determined to expand the project into an acute general hospital with a capacity ranging from 850 to 1,000 beds. The new intention was to replace St Luke's Hospital. To this effect a new firm of designers, Norman & Dawburn, was engaged to execute the design services.
A snap election in 1998 brought about another change in government. The new hospital project was re-evaluated and re-dimensioned to a 650 bed hospital with a possible extension to 825 beds. The new hospital was to cater for Malta's acute medical needs into the next century whilst incorporating secondary and tertiary services including all major specialities. All the clinical functions were to have a strong research and teaching component.
The completion of the first section of the Mater Dei Hospital is due in 2003 and is planned to be fully completed in 2005.