The Malta Labour Party’s star guest for last week’s general conference, British Health Secretary Alan Johnson, ended up in the midst of a wave of rumours in Westminster and some tongue in cheek press reports that he was here for plastic surgery.
The British minister stayed at the Fortina Spa resort in Sliema – the five-star hotel specialising in health tourism attracting thousands of English tourists for anything from dental surgery to boob jobs.
The hotel itself did little to quell the rumours as it spelled out the list of treatments available to Johnson, including peels, fillers and Botox. Among his options, the minister was said to be free to avail himself of “all aspects of cosmetic surgery in conjunctions with Malta’s leading private hospitals; dentistry and cosmetic dentistry; physio and post-operative care; hip and knee operations at private hospital; cardiac operations at private hospital”.
But far from facelifts, Johnson was only here for the dreary world of politics.
“He just slept, ate, gave his speech and sped off,” hotel owner Michael Zammit Tabona told MaltaToday Midweek yesterday. “He took no treatment or any cosmetic surgery, although we would be more than pleased to have him for our services.”
Explaining how the rumour really started, Zammit Tabona said Johnson’s stay at the hotel coincided with the visit of some 90 travel journalists from the UK, organised by the Malta Tourism Authority.
It also happened that the public relations person employed by MTA, and also by Fortina, for the medical tourism niche in the UK happened to also be at the same hotel.
“You can imagine how excited she must have been to see the British health secretary at our hotel,” Zammit Tabona said. “So she did her job and sent this press release saying Johnson was at our hotel, adding what our hotel has to offer. Then the British journalists did some tongue in cheek journalism; it’s just funny, harmless stuff that gives us a good publicity. The only thing I’m angry about is that I missed meeting him as I was abroad skiing.”
In fact, Zammit Tabona is keen on concluding negotiations with Johnson’s ministry to start also getting NHS patients to his resort.
A Johnson aide told British broadsheet The Telegraph: “I know his nose is a bit big and his hair’s thinning in places, but it’s not that bad.”