Health Ministry alone has 1,800 private sector employees on the public payroll

The cost of private sector workers on the health ministry's payroll reaches €30 million a year


Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti

New information submitted in Parliament has shed more light on how the government artificially keeps unemployment statistics low by engaging thousands of private sector employees whose salaries are effectively paid by the state.

Fielding a Parliamentary Question tabled by Opposition MP Ivan Castillo asking for information on the number of private sector employees currently on the Health Ministry’s payroll, Minister Chris Fearne said he could not give precise details since the ministry pays private contractors according to the number of hours worked and not per individual worker.

According to an analysis conducted by The Shift, the Health Ministry alone is currently paying some €30 million a year for the services of almost 1,800 full-time private sector employees.

The analysis shows the Health Ministry is engaging some 400 employees for clerical services alone from the private sector, over and above the hundreds it already employs as clerical staff within the public service.

The largest number of private service employees being funded by the Health Ministry are care workers at Mater Dei Hospital, the Oncology Hospital, Mount Carmel Hospital and other smaller entities within the health sector, where some 800 employees are having their salaries paid by the state coffers through private entities.

Another 600 private sector employees are employed with cleaning contractors servicing public hospitals. More than half of these cleaners, around 400, are deployed at Mater Dei Hospital.

The minister’s information, however, does not include the other hundreds, if not thousands, of similar private sector employees who provide services, through lucrative private sector contracts, in other areas, such as security personnel, health assistants and nurses, among other job descriptions.

Those figures would undoubtedly increase by thousands if the amount of all the other privately-contracted workers were taken into consideration.

These include thousands involved in the care of the elderly, where the government regularly issues multi-million-euro contracts and direct orders to companies for the provision of staff – from nurses and care workers to cooks and kitchen attendants and security guards and other personnel.

Other large public sector entities, such as Wasteserv, Gozo Channel and several others, employ hundreds of personnel directly from the private sector, while all the cleaning services for ministries, government departments and state agencies are provided by the private sector, meaning the employment of hundreds more workers.

Government sources told The Shift that while the engagement of all this private sector staff is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of euro a year, the government is also using the system to accommodate voters seeking government jobs.

“It is a known fact that ministries, particularly through their customer care offices, are continuously recommending individuals, mostly hailing from the constituencies of the ministers concerned, to be employed with these private contractors,” officials familiar with government procurement systems explained.

“In return, contracts are churned out to these private companies if they can meet the ministries’ requests.”

This system, which has been perfected over recent years, is resulting in a win-win situation for the government. While keeping many voters happy through the provision of employment, the system is also helping to keep unemployment statistics artificially low.

A classic example is the so-called Community Work Scheme, which is run through a contract with the General Workers Union on behalf of the government, where more than 1,000 long-term unemployed were given full-time jobs with the government.

Even though thousands are employed in this way and are being remunerated by the government through the GWU, the National Statistics Office still classifies such employees as private sector workers.

In the meantime, the contractors who employ such workers to sustain their lucrative government contracts take a cut of each employee’s salary.

Sources observe that if the government were to audit the output and the actual need of these thousands of ‘private sector’ workers who are effectively on the state payroll, “there would be very interesting results in terms of the value-for-money, or lack thereof, being achieved”.


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Albert Beliard
Albert Beliard
20 days ago

The 1,800 private sector employees on the public payroll are essentially classified as ‘cheap labour’ while the unmentioned healthcare ‘consultants’ are receiving very generous salaries.

19 days ago

These workers are paid subsistence wages while their owner , the one that gets the direct orders to hire them to Dr. Fearne’s Ministry takes 50% of the bill.
The same goes for the rest of these workers working in Malta. Even those in Private Industries working as operators . cleaners , drivers get the same threatment.
If their actual employer tries to get them their work permit to free them from the bondage of their present slave master , JobsPlus becomes a dead horse.

19 days ago

…not sure how this massive influx within the HC sector rhymes with the ethical code of practice which the ‘government’ employed ones are bound to abide to and practice within…even more so since they are beyond the PSMC regulatory arm…

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
19 days ago


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