In the UK, a nurse who claimed overtime payments while on annual leave pleaded guilty to committing fraud by false representation and was sentenced to 12 months in jail, ordered to carry out 60 hours of community service, refund the £10,462 owed, and pay all court expenses.
The British Nursing and Midwifery Council decided that the nurse’s actions were such a “deplorable and serious abuse of trust” that she must never work as a nurse again.
The panel found no evidence the nurse demonstrated any remorse and noted she continued to deny the accusations throughout the investigation. “Mrs Hyde’s prolonged and serious dishonesty was fundamentally incompatible with her remaining on the nursing register”, the council concluded.
As a result, she was struck off.
That is what nurses who dishonestly claim overtime payment can expect in the UK. In stark contrast, in Malta, a nurse who admitted “unjustifiably enriching himself by thousands of euros to the prejudice of the government” was soon on a podium with the prime minister, signing a “historic” agreement.
Paul Pace, MUMN president, admitted to misappropriating public funds, a criminal offence, by claiming overtime while he was, in fact, on holiday.
He was in Egypt in early 2023 when he miraculously signed the attendance sheet on three separate days, claiming to have worked between 6.45 a.m. and 6.45 p.m.
While in Portugal in 2022, he signed in on Sunday, 25 September and Sunday, 2 October and was paid double for each day. He also took on unauthorised private work while supposedly on duty at Mount Carmel Hospital, refused to follow attendance and overtime claims procedures, and took union leave without authorisation.
A fact-finding board found Pace guilty of engaging in “a systematic pattern of abuse over several years”, noting Pace “has on-call duty arrangements which seem to be designed exclusively for him”.
While he admitted the allegations against him, he was suspended for just five days instead of being dismissed.
All the while, Pace claimed he was being “hounded” over “human errors”, which amounted to only €215.38. The Health Ministry informed the court that Pace “admitted to unjustifiably enriching himself by thousands of euros,” while former Nationalist Party MP Jason Azzopardi claimed the sum misappropriated reached €90,000.
Pace insisted his overtime claims were “approved by management”, but Mount Carmel CEO Stephanie Xuereb maintained Pace’s claims were unjustified and unauthorised.
Despite the incontrovertible evidence against Pace and his admission, Malta’s Nursing and Midwifery Council (MUMN) took no action.
The council hasn’t summoned Pace, he hasn’t faced a Fitness to Practice panel, or been struck off the register. As for the police, they are nowhere to be seen.
The council’s inaction seems inexplicable until you examine the Nursing Council’s members.
In June 2022, MUMN organised a block vote for the nursing council. Edition 95 of MUMN’s publication, ‘Il-Musbieħ’ stated, “The General Secretary also gave an update regarding the Board Election of the Nursing and Midwifery Council: the members MUMN supports are Geoffrey Axiak, William Grech and Kevin Holmes”.
All three were unsurprisingly elected to the council. Geoffrey Axiak is the vice chairperson of the IHCP (The Learning Institute for Healthcare Professionals) of MUMN.
William Grech is MUMN deputy general secretary and chairperson of the industrial executive.
Both Grech and Axiak have been longstanding MUMN council members working closely with their dominating president, Paul Pace.
Joseph Pace, another member elected to the nursing council, received vociferous support from MUMN when he was charged with criminal misconduct after a patient under constant watch at Mount Carmel Hospital self-harmed. He’s deeply indebted to Paul Pace.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council president is former police officer and lawyer Vince Micallef, a former partner of Labour Whip Andy Ellul at Micallef and Ellul Advocates.
What is bizarre is that Micallef is also director of Healthmark Care Ltd, together with DB’s Silvio Debono and James Caterers’ James Barbara.
Healthmark provides thousands of nurses and other healthcare workers from Southeast Asia to fill gaps in the public health sector in institutions like Mater Dei Hospital, five government homes for the elderly, and St Vincent de Paul.
Labour awarded Healthmark a €274 million illegal SVPR contract. The National Audit Office found that Labour “breached all procurement rules” and that the contract given to Barbara and Debono was illegal.
Labour dismantled the NGO MMDNA that provided sterling community nursing services until 2015 and awarded multi-million euro direct orders to Healthmark to replace it.
The NAO found Healthmark didn’t give the country value for money and slammed the government for renewing the company’s contract annually by direct order.
The NAO concluded the contract was “skewed to benefit the service provider instead of government”.
Vince Micallef, the president of the Nursing Council, is a director of Healthmark, which relies for most of its profits on foreign nurses being granted registration by his council.
Healthmark is at the mercy of MUMN President Paul Pace, whose regular call for nurses’ strikes will significantly impact Healthmark’s and Micallef’s profits.
Is there a more strident conflict of interest than a director whose company profits by employing hundreds of nurses being simultaneously president of the nursing council?
Micallef wouldn’t risk angering Pace by striking him off the register. The members of the nursing council who also sit on the MUMN council wouldn’t dream of voting to investigate and penalise their MUMN boss and president. Even at MUMN, they haven’t stripped Pace of the union presidency.
This is the crazy universe the government has created.