EXCLUSIVE: No helicopter for Gozitan patient with heart attack

The air ambulance, run by the company Steward Healthcare, was not available to take a patient from Gozo to Mater Dei when doctors requested it, Newsbook.com.mt can confirm. The patient who was suffering from a heart attack had to wait for six hours at the Gozo hospital. This contradicts Steward’s management’s statement which said that the doctors recommended that the patient be left at Gozo General Hospital because his condition had stabilised.

New sources supplied Newsbook.com.mt with definitive evidence proving that the patient was admitted to the Gozo hospital run by Steward Healthcare hospital 10.02am on Friday 24th August. He was airlifted to Mater Dei Hospital at 4.30pm, meaning more than six and a half hours delay.

New professional sources in Gozo have confirmed that doctors had requested the patient be brought to Malta at 11am and were told that the helicopter was not available at the time. This was reconfirmed by separate sources in Mater Dei.

The patient unfortunately succumbed to his condition later on during the day.

This is not the first such serious incident. Nationalist MP Chris Said implied last Sunday 2nd September that even Labour MP Anton Refalo had to wait for a long time before an air ambulance was available to airlift him to Malta.

The story so far

  • Chris Said reveals details on Facebook: PN MP Chris Said put up a status on Facebook on August 24 and 26 exposing the fact that the patient was left waiting for over six and a half hours. He explained that the delay was caused by the fact tht no air ambulance was available.
  • Steward Healthcare Replies: Between Friday 24th and Monday 27th September, Newsbook.com.mt made various attempts to get any reply from Gozo General Hospital’s management to no avail. A spokesperson from Steward Healthcare meanwhile replied on the abovementioned on Monday and said that it was the professionals who recommended the patient stay in Gozo.
  • Newsbook confirms no air ambulance: Sources within Mater Dei confirmed with this newsroom that the patient was in critical condition when he was admitted to the Gozo hospital and needed to be urgently transferred to Mater Dei.
  • Fearne announces enquiry: Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Chris Fearne during an interview with Newsbook.com.mt said that he launched an enquiry chaired by Professor Joseph Cacciottolo.
  • Caruana defends Steward Healthcare: Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana defended the air-ambulance service in comments to this newsroom. She also defended her decision to speak about health and education in Gozo, although on several occasions she refused to do so in Parliament.

The results of the inquiry will probably be published next week.