“VGH (Vitals) had not delivered, nor had the government demanded they do so. There were no funds for salaries of staff working at the hospitals,” Steward Health Care President Nadine Delicata informed the nation in an opinion piece published by The Times of Malta. “Things were actually worse than most people realise.”
Steward Health Care took over the concession in 2018 for €1 after Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) ran up millions of euro in debts and when the whole criminal venture was on the point of collapse. Labour frantically sought another concessionaire to conceal its corruption while Vitals’ owners escaped with millions of taxpayers’ money.
Steward Health Care’s president Nadine Delicata did not hold back. Steward Health Care, she announced, had uncovered a “staggering amount of VAT that not only had not been paid by Vitals but which the authorities failed to detect”. Steward was left to “clean up the ugly mess left by the owners of VGH” she added.
Delicata pointed her finger at the Labour government: “VGH had been left unattended with a massive amount of taxpayer money, with no one checking up on how they were delivering on their commitments”. She is right.
But who were “they”? It turns out that Nadine Delicata, now ruthlessly denouncing Vitals and the “ill-thought out concession agreement” was the very Vice President for Vitals’ operations and Vitals’ Gozo General hospital CEO.
Steward Health Care’s Nadine insisted the concession “was in a state of dire emergency” when Vitals’ Nadine was at the helm.
On 26 November 2016 Vitals proudly announced its management structure. Armin Ernst was CEO leading VGH. Nadine Delicata was VGH’s Gozo General Hospital CEO.
By the following week, Delicata was lending her credibility to convince the nation that a company that had never run a village clinic was the best choice to run half the country’s health service.
She painted a rosy picture of VGH. “There is a lot of positive improvement, we have access to expert assistance – this is a breath of fresh air,” Delicata bluffed.
“There is a lot of work being done, the hospital has outgrown its needs for the local population,” she proclaimed. Delicata was duping the country into believing that Gozo General Hospital was providing more services than the whole of Gozo required. Now she tells us it was a disaster.
Having hoodwinked the public then, Delicata informs us that “things were actually worse than most people realise”. Is she surprised? Wasn’t she the one whose credibility convinced so many that VGH was the best deal for the country?
Delicata was not the hospital janitor. She was vice president for VGH. Was she so daft that she didn’t even realise the whole operation was a scam?
If her own judgement was so appallingly atrocious, her colleagues at the Malta Medical Association (MAM) opened her eyes. MAM was asking questions about VGH that remained unanswered. It requested information that was never given.
Instead of acknowledging MAM’s serious and grave concerns about VGH, Delicata mocked the experts. “VGH invited MAM for discussions,” she had said when at VGH, “but unfortunately MAM has not yet accepted”.
Why was Nadine Delicata denouncing MAM that was fighting to protect patients from the dodgy VGH and its government enablers?
When Labour’s government flatly refused to publish the suspicious agreement with VGH, Delicata defended its secrecy: “I am sure there is commercially sensitive information”. When the agreement was finally tabled in parliament, entire pages were completely blanked out.
Delicata’s shameless article published by The Times of Malta attempts to airbrush her central role in VGH. “As someone who has led our operations for the last three years, I don’t recognise the image of Steward Health Care that is too often trotted out for political point-scoring,” she wrote.
Delicata is disingenuously giving the impression she only appeared on the scene when Steward Health Care took over.
In fact, she was there all along. Indeed she was there much earlier.
The second NAO report on the VGH debacle reported that Delicata sat on the technical workstream of the steering committee which oversaw the concession and gave strategic direction to the project. The central role played by Delicata, Gozo General Hospital CEO, was highlighted by the negotiation committee.
But when Delicata testified in the NAO investigation, she had denied any direct interaction with VGH. She indicated that she was not aware of having been part of a committee negotiating the health services requirements. But correspondence reviewed by the NAO contradicted Delicata’s assertions.
“The correspondence made available to this office indicated that she was well aware of the fact that her involvement was directly related to the setting of health service requirements in connection with the concession”. The NAO also noted that Delicata “would later be engaged as an employee of Vitals creating the basis of a conflict of interest”.
The NAO was not impressed with Delicata: “Inconsistencies noted in testimonies provided to this office remained a concern,” the NAO report states.
“CEO Gozo General Hospital (Delicata) claimed that despite being responsible for overall management of the hospital’s workforce, she did not have access to the Labour supply agreement. The NAO failed to comprehend how the CEO GGH was to oversee the proper functioning of the hospital without access to the agreement that was to regulate its workforce.”
An official who provides false information to a public institution would expect to be investigated and prosecuted, particularly when their organisation was engaged in an obviously criminal enterprise. Instead, Nadine Delicata seamlessly transitioned from government official to VGH vice president to Steward Health Care president.
Instead of hanging her head in shame and apologising for her serious error of judgement and for misleading the nation, Delicata has the audacity to shift the entire responsibility for VGH’s heist onto the government and exculpate herself of all responsibility. Not so fast.
Delicata, Armin Ernst and others enabled Labour to rob the nation not only of its hospitals but of millions of euro. Through her efforts, she enabled VGH to create “a raft of companies, shifting assets between them and burning through funds”.
Millions of those funds went to Accutor AG that bound itself to pay Joseph Muscat €540,000.
Delicata is now attempting to dupe the nation a second time to protect her new employer and the millions of taxpayers money being raked in: “Hospitals have been made safer, I remain convinced that we (Steward) can deliver top rate hospitals”.
Now, where did we hear that before?
Prof Kevin Cassar is consultant vascular surgeon and clinical lead of the vascular unit at Mater Dei Hospital.