Saint James Hospital Group CEO Jean Claude Muscat has stated that Malta’s healthcare sector is “struggling” due to a broad number of reasons, and in order to progress, new models in collaboration with Government need to be created.
Mr Muscat’s comments came as part of MaltaCEOs.mt’s end-of-year series, in which he acknowledged that 2024 will most likely be a year of “major changes” for the hospital group, together with the whole healthcare sector in general.
Mr Muscat joined Saint James Hospital Group at the age of just 20, and as the company grew, he worked his way up the corporate ladder, being named CEO in 2002, the same year the group bought Saint James Capua. He has been involved in the healthcare industry for more than 25 years.
Reflecting on the past year, Mr Muscat said that 2023 was both demanding and frustrating, yet also rewarding for him and Saint James Hospital Group.
He remarked that it was notably demanding due to the “ambitious goals” the group had set for the year, with these including service standards, client experience standards, the launch of new projects and financial goals.
“The road to achieving these goals and targets required a lot of energy and time to transmit the message throughout the group, keep people motivated and focused, tackle staff resisting the changes, provide the necessary support and training, feed the team with the necessary energy, and to be able to recover from the inevitable setbacks,” Mr Muscat added.
On the other hand, he said that the group managed to achieve and execute most of its projects, targets and goals as planned and on time. This was a feat that required a significant amount of commitment from the team, “from top to bottom and vice versa.”
In this respect, he is grateful to have a team who understood what the group was trying to achieve, and who are committed to “deliver the goods, however challenging the demands.”
“I am also grateful to be surrounded by an amazing family who support me, not withstanding me being absent from their lives for too long, something I plan to make up for sooner rather than later,” he acknowledged.
As he looked ahead to what 2024 has to offer, Mr Muscat noted that the year will most likely be characterised by “major changes” within the local healthcare sector, as he feels that it is “struggling in many ways.”
“The cost to deliver quality healthcare is huge, access to supply of local nursing and medical staff is limited, medical equipment and technology continues to advance at an extremely fast pace, and costs are continuously increasing,” he pointed out.
He noted that in order for Malta’s healthcare services to improve and be more efficient, providing timely, quality, and sustainable services to patients, “new models” must be created encouraging greater collaboration with the state to offer “specialised services that support each other rather than simply doing more of the same.”
Focusing more specifically on the Saint James Hospital Group, Mr Muscat said that during 2024, the group will be seeking to “specialise its hospitals further” by partnering with international healthcare institutions that will enable it to “raise the bar more.” This will be done through exchange programmes whereby specialists and staff can be trained locally as well as overseas to offer new services “not yet available in Malta.”
“These specialised healthcare services will enable us to attract patients from the surrounding region to receive their medical treatment in a first-class set-up in Malta, creating a new market not only for the hospital, but also for other related stakeholders including airlines, hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, taxi services, and more,” he continued.
From a more personal perspective, Mr Muscat said that he is proud that he is including more quality time with his family, especially his children, who have now grown up and have “finally decided that their dad is worth spending time with.”
“I didn’t manage to share much quality time with them in their younger years and I can easily rate this as my number one personal accomplishment for the past year,” he remarked.
However, there are still some key areas that he wants to work on in 2024.
“I want to be less emotional in dealing with negativity and with people who I don’t necessarily see eye to eye with,” he said.
Additionally, he also noted that he wants to delegate more tasks and responsibilities, to “reduce bottlenecks” from his end and to also support other people’s potential for them to develop further by “letting them take more decisions when it matters.”
Fitness is also of great importance to Mr Muscat, as he wants to return to including daily physical activity and being more disciplined with his dietary habits.
When asked the difficult question of where he sees himself in a year’s time, Mr Muscat said that he expects 2024 to be a year filled with plenty of changes for Saint James Hospital Group.
“We have a lot going on as a company, both locally as well as internationally. These include restructuring plans, efficiency improvement plans, the launch of new services, and the opening of new facilities, among other things,” he said.
“I am hoping that in a year’s time, I will be able to see the company operate within a different structure and direction, though it may be too early to expand further on this for now,” Mr Muscat affirmed.
Saint James Hospital Group CEO Jean Claude Muscat
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