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Franco Debono asks Commissioner to investigate 'chemotherapy toxicity deaths'
Update 2 | Nationalist MP Franco Debono urges police investigation into ‘serious claims’ by former oncology chief Stephen Brincat that cancer patients in Gozo died from chemo toxicity.
2 September 2012, 12:00am
Debono said that as an MP he felt "concerned" over the claims made by Prof. Brincat and added that an investigation into possible manslaughter charges through negligent responsibility under Chapter 225 of the Criminal Code was "urgent" and justice had to be done.
Writing in The Sunday Times today, Professor Stephen Brincat, who recently resigned his post as head of the Oncology Department, reiterated that he had left his post because his advice on various important issues, including how to introduce chemotherapy in Gozo, was ignored.
"In the past we have had people dying in Gozo from chemotherapy toxicity because this was done there without the necessary expertise and that is a bitter experience for all concerned," Brincat wrote.
Chemotherapy toxicity is rare and results from the side effects of chemotherapy.
Currently there is no chemotherapy treatment in Gozo. However, in the past, some people were treated there at their request and there were cases of death by toxicity, he said.
Prof. Brincat said carrying out chemotherapy without necessary expertise is asking for trouble.
Meanwhile, speaking at a political activity held in Xewkijja, Gozo, this morning, Labour Leader Joseph Muscat said that the government must answer for allegations of political interference made by former head of Mater Dei Hospital's Oncology Department Stephen Brincat.
Muscat referred to statements by Brincat, where he listed reasons for his resignation. Muscat referred to one reason in particular, where Brincat revealed that government would interfere with the Oncology Department's work, and attempt to interfere in decisions related to those patients the department admitted for cancer testing and care, and those patients it released from care.
Muscat said that such allegations of political interference are "shocking" and called on both Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Health Minister Joe Cassar to answer to these claims. "Both the Health Minister and the Prime Minister will have to answer for this most serious accusation," Muscat insisted.
Muscat also pointed out how Brincat's statements also highlighted the government's mismanagement of the health service.
He said that despite its agreement with contractor and construction company SKANSKA that it would build an oncology clinic for cancer care, "the company was paid despite this was not built."