The President of the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN), Paul Pace, currently embroiled in an overtime payments scandal, received more in payments for claimed overtime and ‘on-call’ allowances than his official annual salary in 2022.
According to information published in parliament by Health Minister Chris Fearne, Pace, also a charge nurse at Mount Carmel Hospital, received an average of €27,000 a year in allowances and overtime between 2012 and 2022, practically doubling his actual remuneration.
The information, supplied following questions by PN MP Albert Buttigieg, following a series of reports on the scandal published by The Shift, shows that in 10 years, between 2012 and 2022, Pace received a total of €269,000 in overtime and on-call allowances on top of his official salary.
According to official figures, the salary of a charge nurse was a maximum of €29,625 in 2022.
Through claimed overtime and on-call allowances, which, according to a health ministry investigation, facilitated mainly by lax documentation and procedures, Pace received almost €60,000 from State coffers in annual remuneration for the past decade.
Pace received just five days suspension from the Public Service Commission following the revelations, which enraged sources at the health ministry. This was despite the investigation concluding systemic abuse by Pace.
But they said the new data “comforts them that the investigation results pointed towards the right direction.”
An investigation by the health ministry found that Pace claimed and was paid overtime and allowances while he was on holiday abroad.
It was also established that while in Egypt and Portugal, he had somehow signed his attendance sheet at Mount Carmel Hospital, confirming his physical presence, even though he was abroad.
Among its conclusions, the investigation found that “the number of overtime hours for conducting “visits” claimed by Pace while “on-call”, as well as the number of hours claimed for the duration of each visit, were confirmed by MHS (Ministry) management as being “exaggerated”; that “Pace did not follow the established standard leave procedures within MHS and refused to conform” and that “Pace does not follow the attendance sheet recording procedures established”.
The report, which the government has refused to publish, also found that Pace did not get any approval for his overtime on-call claims to carry out infection control duties, that his on-call allowances arrangements “seem to be designed exclusively for him, since no other nurse working at Mt Carmel has similar working arrangements”, and that Pace claimed overtime and was paid for it also while doing private work or having lunch with ministry officials.
Despite the evidence, which should result in immediate dismissal, the government’s disciplinary arm, led by permanent secretaries Johann Galea and Joyce Dimech, did not feel that the case merited Pace’s dismissal.
Pace was also asked to pay back €215 in overpaid overtime. However, the health ministry had informed the court that Pace “admitted to unjustifiably enriching himself by thousands of euros,” while former Nationalist Party MP Jason Azzopardi claimed the sum reached €90,000.
Pace is still the president of the MUMN, and the union council has so far failed to take any action.