Mater Dei 'fully functional in six months' - 3/5/2007

link to The Times
Mater Dei 'fully functional in six months'
Herman Grech

The new hospital is expected to be fully operational within three to four months of its inauguration on July 1, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday.

Contractor Skanska will deliver the multi-million Mater Dei Hospital and a carefully phased migration will start at once.

"We're not interested in gimmicks and the opening ceremony is not the priority. We will start taking patients when it's least risky - but within three to four months of that date it will be fully operational," the Prime Minister said.

The government was determined to continue investing in nurses and support staff to complement the investment being made.

Dr Gonzi was speaking to reporters during an informal lunch in the middle of a whirlwind tour of no less than 15 projects in Malta and Gozo on the occasion of Labour Day, being marked today.

The government has faced mounting criticism from some quarters particularly the Labour Party who argue that the July opening will be nothing more than a ceremonial event, amid claims of spiralling costs.

Most of the bulky equipment on site, worth around 50 million, has already been installed. Testing and commissioning is also under way in a number of areas to ensure the equipment functions properly. Staff will be trained in the use of medical equipment and engineering systems.

The contractor will have to pay a penalty of up to Lm5 million if the hospital is not finished on time, though Dr Gonzi indicated this would not be the case.

The Prime Minister's tour took in the Mater Dei embellishment works being carried out by the Environment Landscapes Consortium.

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