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.

Ophthalmologist Franco Mercieca is also a Labour electoral candidate.
Ophthalmologist Franco Mercieca is also a Labour electoral candidate.

Adds comments by Franco Mercieca

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registered by ophthalmologist Franco Mercieca in the selection of a consultant surgeon whose appointment was later withdrawn.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

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Raymond Mintoff
Instead of twisting facts Minister Joe Cassar should declare if Dr FRanco Mercieca sat on any of the boards that picked the four unqualified consultants. Less than that is superfluous and Minister Cassar should shoulder responsability and hand in his resignation.
Rita Grioli
Mhux cara daqs il-kristall li qed isir sforz fenominali biex jimtlew postijiet importanti minn nies ta GonziPN (mhux Nazzjonalisti). Ma hawn hadd minn jista jghidilna kemm dahlu nies mal-Gvern dawn l-ahhar 6 xhur. Fejn hi l-media? Kollox bizzila qed jahdmu minn fuq dahar il-poplu kemm blu u kemm ahmar.
Oliver Magri
Jien f dawn il kummidji ta bordijiet ma nifhimx, imma nghidilkom li din l-affari mahduma kienet, l-aqwa li nhamgu lil Franco u ilhom ghalieh u ilhom jippruvaw ihamguh kollox bizzilla. Strategija heqq min jaf minn ghand min hux ??? !!!
Proset Franco. Int kont l-uniku ragel li oggezzjonajt. Skont l-istqarrija int kont fil-minoranza. Mela ghalkemm oggezjonajt ma setghetx taghddi tieghek. Veru gvern tal-misthija.
John Zammit
most propable dr f mercieca was misled by the chairman of the board mr fenech. but what really is out of this world is the comments in the gonzipn statement 'The revelation that Franco Mercieca was on these selection panels confirms the confusion and scheming inside Labour...' what gonzipn has been through these last months surely make this statement the last gaffe coming from a moribond party. ara vera l ispizjar milli jkollu jtik biex ma nghidx kelma ohra. the crux of the whole issue should be were these posting given to eligigle candidates...if not they should be retreated. no more no less.
A Abela
Dr Mercieca raised the issue of 'ineligibility' of one of the candidates as he was not on the specialist register. He made no mention of the candidate not being 'qualified'. This terminology, with its connotation to academic qualification is being used by the ministry to spin and muddle the affair. Once again this government has been caught with its shorts down.
Josanne Cassar
More importantly can Government issue the number of interviews held during the past 25 years together with the number of instances when minority reports were lodged? This is how we can come to grips with the issue of minority reports. I am sure that the percentage will be less than 0.1%! Because I can only remember one case of a minority report which takes us back to 1986. And the officer who lodged it, and gave wind to the PN whilst in opposition and during the election campaign, was soon rewarded by being posted for three years in Geneva soon after the PN was elected in 1987, even though this officer was alien to foreign affairs and it was as if he was parachuted to this position. It was politically motivated.
Josanne Cassar
Let us not get lost in the technicalities of a minority report. The fact the Franco raised the issue is enough. The Chairman had an obligation to look into the query raised by Franco and also ask Franco whether he wanted to submit a minority report. If the Chairman failed to do so, it is no Franco’s fault.
Being the first interviewing board on which he sat, would Dr Franco Mercieca know that he could have filed a minority report? Did anyone tell him about it? And how come that an OPM representative was not present on the selection board? His/her presence there is to guide the other members who may not be so conversant with PSC regulations and to see that everything is done in order. How did the PSC allow such a board to be set up without the OPM rep? How did the PSC accept the board's report which selected the unqualified candidates? Or has the PSC become merely a rubber stamp?
mark bonavia
Paul Debono
Franco Mercieca should resign from the board as it is there where he fouled, however the minister is ultimate responsible for what happens in his ministry. - Yes, I expect the minister to take responsibility and also the PSE to take responsibility for putting forward an unqualified candidate to the board.
Noel Abela
So its all Dr Mercieca's fault the rest will be declared "SAINTS" by the POPE on comming sunday! I cannot ask the minister concered whos fault it is because all you can see of him with the mobile glued to his ears walking sideways. No matter how hard you try to assissinate Dr Mercieca caracter "XORTA SE JOHDILKHOM XKORA VOTI" No we are not "CWIEC" as my nanna always says "CUC MINN JGHAMILNA"!!!
john spiteri
And yet..... we still got the message of how a Minister's son in law was chosen even though he did not have the full qualifications :that's what counts! I bet the sahhara creep is spinning out puerile excuses for a fistful of euros!

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