On 30 August, a new president was finally appointed. The previous incumbent had resigned his position seven months earlier. Between January and September, the Maltese Council of Nurses and Midwives had no president.
Despite the panic about nursing crises and empty statements about the government’s efforts to fix them, the body responsible for registering nurses was left headless. And in a state of almost complete paralysis – for months.
Labour has now replaced one political appointee, MP Andy Ellul, with another political appointee, Vince Micallef – the two had a legal firm together, Micallef & Ellul Advocates. What makes Micallef the best-qualified candidate to preside over the Council of Nurses?
One thing’s certain – Micallef has absolutely no background, no interest and no experience in nursing legal affairs. That’s based on his own bombastic biography on the webpage of his private legal practice, humbly named Vincent Micallef and Associates.
That bio provides a taste of the calibre of the man’s ego.: “Strengthening the foundation of his professional career, Dr Micallef today professes in the fields of criminal law and civil law… In 2010, Dr Micallef amplified his practice to include the specific fields of business and commercial law”.
Micallef was a police officer until 2007, when he became a lawyer. After six short years, his beloved Labour Party secured power. For Micallef, the years of plenty arrived. The man is so competent, so skilled, so enterprising, so unbelievably amazing that apart from running his own legal practice, he also serves on the boards of several corporations. And that’s just for starters.
Micallef is also chairman of the Social Security Appeals Board, vice-chairman of the Board to Investigate Corrupt Practices by the Malta Football Association, Commissioner for Justice, Secretary to the Board of Directors of the Malta College of Science and Technology (where his dear friend Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando calls the shots), Secretary to the Board of Directors of Mediterranean Offshore Bunkering Co Ltd, Chairperson of the Government Formulary List Advisory Appeals Committee (yes, it really exists), Director of the Board of Water Services Corporation and member of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment in Strasbourg, France.
And that’s not all. He also provided consultancy to the Government of Malta (i.e. he made loads of money for little or no work) on the privatisation of the former Malta Shipbuilding site, on the process of land reclamation, and even found time to provide his services to the Valletta 2018 Foundation.
Now guess how many of those positions were not political appointments. Yes, you’ve guessed it – almost none. Surely Labour must have plenty more loyalists who could fill at least one of those positions. Some people’s greed is just beyond belief.
What are the chances that a man as busy as Micallef is likely to fulfil the role of president of the council adequately? He’s more likely to just grab his honorarium and vanish. If he did, it might be better than if he hung around and caused mayhem.
Micallef is a close friend of Silvio Debono of DB Group fame. Micallef was photographed with Debono, Natius Farrugia (former Zurrieq Mayor found guilty of harassing Daphne Caruana Galizia) and Ivan Portelli (a police officer sacked by former police commissioner John Rizzo for criminal association) at the wedding of now Justice Minister Jonathan Attard.
Portelli was sacked from the police force after being found on a yacht with suspects of a €2.3 million robbery. But as soon as Labour returned to power, Portelli was made Director of Operations at the VAT department and later Director of Customs, VAT and Inland Revenue at the Office of the Commissioner for Revenue.
On the day Micallef accompanied Debono on his shopping spree, Debono filed 19 gratuitous libel suits against Daphne Caruana Galizia for having the temerity to delve into his dodgy deals.
The problem with Micallef’s proximity to Debono is that his DB group “is committed to providing healthcare resources to support the public sector”, according to the company’s own statement.
Debono’s company provides nursing staff, most brought over from South East Asia, to fill gaps in the public health sector. Those nurses need registration to be able to work – and for Debono to add to his mountain of wealth generated from taxpayers’ money. The body responsible for registering those nurses is the council now led by Debono’s friend Vince Micallef.
Debono set up Healthmark Care Services Ltd in 2014, less than a year after Joseph Muscat’s victory. The specific objective of Debono’s Healthcare was “to supply healthcare workers to public hospitals and clinics”. MMDNA, which provided community nursing, was swiftly dismantled, and Debono was conveniently ready to take over the multi-million-euro service.
Two years later, Debono’s company was awarded an obscene concession to construct and operate a 490-bed facility at St Vincent de Paul. The NAO slammed that €274 million deal as breaching “legislative provisions”.
The NAO found serious shortcomings, missing documentation and oversight failures. The parliamentary secretaries responsible were in “clear breach of their duty”. The whole deal could be deemed invalid. Labour accommodated Debono, again. It had already done so in transferring ITS land to him.
Debono’s Healthcare boasts a pool of 313 nurses, 2,242 care assistants and another 320 domiciliary care workers. His company provides care and support workers to Mater Dei, five government homes for the elderly and other government services.
Those nurses are Debono’s golden goose. Thanks to them and his Labour buddies, Debono’s revenues from the health sector alone have ballooned from €12.5 million in 2014 to an astronomical €60.9 million by March 2022, according to the company’s reports.
Debono’s mind is now at rest that his travelling companion, Vince Micallef, is at the helm of the regulatory body that decides whether the nurses Debono recruits have the necessary qualifications and competence to practice safely in our country.