A doctor with muscular dystrophy has been awarded compensation and reinstated in his position after a court ruled he was discriminated against by the state hospital.  

Naged Megally, who uses a wheelchair, claimed that he was forcefully carried out of an examination room where he was treating patients by a senior medical professional and the chief executive of Mater Dei Hospital.  

The incident dates back to July 2018 when Megally was working at the Mater Dei Ultrasound Clinic. 

His superior, Professor Yves Muscat Baron had allegedly told Megally that he was taking too long and the medical equipment was needed by another doctor.

When the doctor insisted on finishing examining his patients, he was physically carried to a chair outside the clinic by the professor and then hospital CEO Ivan Falzon who would not wait for porters to assist Megally to his wheelchair.

All this took place in full view of his patients, one of whom, testified in court to confirm Megally's version of events. 

The incident had triggered an internal inquiry that acknowledged Muscat Baron’s attitude may have been “coarse and bristly” but Megally had “heightened sensitivities” about his personal disability.

The doctor persistently asked for a copy of the inquiry report but was only handed a copy of its conclusions.

Megally filed a judicial protest in August 2019 and claimed he was targeted more in the months that followed. 

He was threatened with dismissal and in October 2021, while his breach of rights case was ongoing, he was suspended over alleged “mistakes” and “shortcomings” at his job.

A copy of the inquiry report was presented in court by a representative of the Health Ministry.

In that copy, the words “rather heightened” with reference to Megally’s “sensitivities” about his disability, were left out.

A member of the board of inquiry confirmed his signature on both versions but could not explain the discrepancy.

'Concerted effort' to dismiss doctor

The First Hall, Civil Court, in its constitutional jurisdiction, presided over by Mr Justice Grazio Mercieca, was informed about a concerted effort among medical consultants to dismiss Megally.

However, that plan failed because one of the consultants stood up for Megally, insisting that there was no cause for dismissal.

That consultant also testified that he had worked closely with the applicant and never doubted his abilities, adding that Megally did his work as well as other professionals.

All this negatively impacted the applicant both on a personal level as well as in his work, reducing him to “an emotionally distressed state.”

Such a situation presented “all the ingredients of inhuman and degrading treatment,” and this was “truly shameful” the court ruled. 

This was more so when this was inflicted by members of the medical profession, “a caring profession bound by its Hippocratic oath,” as well as the CEO of “the hospital of the Maltese State,” observed the court.

Whilst declaring the Health Minister as non-suited, the court held that Megally had suffered inhuman and degrading treatment as well as discrimination, and ordered his immediate reinstatement.

He was also to be reimbursed for any salary and benefits deducted during his suspension from work and any disciplinary proceedings still pending against him were to be dropped.

The court also awarded the doctor €5,000 in moral damages payable by the Mater Dei authorities.

Lawyers Ryan Falzon and Jonathan Thompson assisted the applicant.

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