Cardiologist Albert Fenech will today make his last surgical intervention at Mater Dei Hospital as he was asked to make room for young practioneers.

Cardiologist and PN MP Albert Fenech will carry out his final surgical intervention at Mater Dei today. Photo: Darrin Zammit LupiCardiologist and PN MP Albert Fenech will carry out his final surgical intervention at Mater Dei today. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Prof. Fenech, a Nationalist MP, was told by Cardiology Department chairman Robert Xuereb last month: “There are too many consultants within the department and room had to be made for young cardiologists”.

Prof. Fenech co-founded the department 20 years ago and has since mentored a number of cardiologists, including many of those working in the department today.

He believes the real reason behind this decision was his involvement in politics.

“Politics should not be affecting the operation of the hospital but, sadly, it is. The hospital is not a very happy, harmonious place at the moment. It is being run in an almost dictatorial way.

“I never thought it would end this way. I said I would be happy to stay and operate for just one day a week but I was told that was not possible,” he said.

Upon receiving the news last month, Prof. Fenech said he contacted Mater Dei’s CEO and the medical director, who overruled Dr Xuereb’s decision and allowed him to stay on for another month so he could operate on patients who had been under his care for years.

Prof. Fenech last year filed a judicial protest against the health parliamentary secretary, the health ministry’s permanent secretary and Mater Dei’s CEO complaining that he had been forced into part-time work in what he claimed was a breach of policy.

He has since been working a 20-hour week, consisting of two days seeing outpatients and one day carrying out surgical interventions.

Prof. Fenech said that once he was forced to stop carrying out procedures at the hospital, he might as well decide to work abroad again.

“To work, you need tools. I was told I could see outpatients but not carry out surgical interventions. I can’t tell my patients they need surgery and stop there.

“At this point, I won’t exclude considering leaving the country again. This would be against my wishes because Malta is my home and I have patients that I’ve been working with for years,” he said.

Before the cardiology department was set up, those requiring any form of cardiac interventions had to go abroad.

Politics should not be affecting the operation of the hospital but,sadly, it is

Prof. Fenech said that, after the last general election, he was informed he could not carry out certain procedures and only given “banal explanations as to why this was happening”. “I was banned from carrying out operations that I had introduced myself years ago.”

Other consultants disagreed with this decision, and nine out of the 11 consultants in the department signed a petition calling for Prof. Fenech to be allowed to carry out the surgeries.

Efforts to contact Dr Xuereb via telephone were unsuccessful.

Mater Dei Hospital CEO Ivan Falzon said that, in Prof. Fenech’s case, the hospital management had followed the procedure that was laid down in the collective agreement with regard to consultants reaching retirement age.

He pointed out that the collective agreement had been reached under the previous administration and signed by the Health Department and the Medical Association of Malta a week before the 2013 general election.

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