Updated | Labour candidate registered no disagreement on Mater Dei surgeon
Health ministry says PL candidate who sat on surgeons’ selection panel did not file minority report on appointed candidate.
1 August 2012, 12:00am
There was no minority report or any disagreement registered by ophthalmologist Franco Mercieca in the selection of a consultant surgeon whose appointment was later withdrawn.
The health ministry said Mercieca, a Labour Party candidate, did not flag any issues connected to the selection of a consultant surgeon who was allegedly unqualified for the post.
Mercieca yesterday claimed the interview to select the consultant ophthalmologist specialising in anterior segment surgery and glaucoma was chaired by Thomas Fenech.
"At the time of the interview I raised the issue of ineligibility of one of the candidates as he was not on the specialist register, but the chairman reiterated that the list of candidates to be interviewed was issued by the Public Service Commission and that we were obliged to assess these candidates and grade them according to their qualifications and abilities," Mercieca said.
The Labour candidate added that at the time of the selection process he also noted that it was the first interview that he was involved in, in which no representative of the PSC was present.
In fresh comments this evening, Mercieca said it had been a collective agreement, and not a unilateral decision to proceed with the interview.
"Having agreed on the proceedings with the chairman of the board none of us felt the need to forward a minority report or refrain from signing the interview result," he said.
Mercieca added, "After all, its up to the PSC to issue the Consultant appointment at its discretion after we assessed the candidates' professional abilities."
The Labour party has set much store in crying out foul over the selection of four candidates for consultant surgeon posts, when these candidates were not fully qualified for the posts.
On its part, the ministry said that no consultant was engaged by the health department, after it emerged that conflicting rules between the collective agreement for doctors and national legislation, had resulted in a misinterpretation over which rules would prevail for the selectio of the consultants. These rules are now under review.
"The calls for consultant designates have been reissued. It is clear the Opposition wants to mislead the public or is unaware of how public service selections are carried out. Government ministers only sign in appointments once these are confirmed by the Public Service Commission. It seems the Opposition prefers to have the minister directly inerfering in the PSC's process, which betrays Labour's attachment to the past.
"Clearly, Labour is even unaware of what it is asking for. First it campaigned for the ministry to issue the names of the selection panels and their chairpersons, and now because one of the members happens to be a Labour candidate, it wants others to take responsibilty for the selection of the candidates."
The health ministry yesterday issued the names of doctors who sat on the Public Service Commission's selection commissions, after the Labour party called for an investigation into the selection of the surgeons.
The ministry said that in only three of four posts was one candidate selected to the post of consultant surgeon, although the position was later withdrawn.
Labour claims a report by the Public Service Commission which showed four medical consultants had been appointed without being fully qualified, merited a proper investigation. Since the selection of the four consultants, the board members charged with their selection have disclaimed all responsibility for the appointments by withdrawing their signatures.
In a statement, the PN said Labour should take action against its own electoral candidate if it was convinced of its own allegations. "The revelation that Franco Mercieca was on these selection panels confirms the confusion and scheming inside Labour... who, within the MLP, instigated this attack on Labour candidate Franco Mercieca?"
One News report of Franco Mercieca comments, Tuesday evening
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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