Forced retirement for cardiac surgeon Albert Fenech riles patients

Cardiac surgeon and MP forced to retire from Mater Dei says ‘politics to blame’

Albert Fenech: told to move out
Albert Fenech: told to move out

Renowned interventional cardiologist Albert Fenech has been unceremoniously told not to keep working at Mater Dei Hospital beyond pensionable age, in a strict application of employment rules that has baffled patients and sections of the medical community alike.

Patients whose lives were saved by Mr Fenech contacted this newsroom expressing concern at the way the consultant was being barred from working beyond a 20-hour part-time schedule, and now being shown the door at Mater Dei.

Fenech told newspaper Illum.com.mt he was “practically being removed over personal pique and political decisions”, and accused cardiology chairman Robert Xuereb of having effectively ruled him out for any future cardiac surgeries.

Fenech last year filed a judicial protest against the parliamentary secretary for health for being forced into part-time work in breach of policy.

The 61-year-old Nationalist MP was evidently hurt by the decision to have him resign when the cardiology department could have easily made an exception to the rule.

“I was first stopped from carrying out the very surgical procedures I introduced to Malta and which I taught to new surgeons – including Xuereb himself – and then they reduced the number of operations I could do from two daily to one, until I was completely stopped.”

“I feel insulted and hurt,” Prof. Fenech said.

Patients who spoke to Illum.com.mt his week said they were extremely disappointed to see that the surgeon who had tended to their conditions for years on end, had to face such an ignominious end to his NHS career.

Fenech also said that since the 2013 election of Labour in government, “a political decision” was taken to split up the department between cardiology and cardiac surgery – formerly fused under the chairmanship of Alex Manché – so that another surgeon could be made departmental head.

He added that at least nine out of 11 cardiac consultants opposed such changes.

Since then, Fenech was given a contract that limited his work at Mater Dei to just 20 hours a week to operate on his patients. “I’m like a mechanic without a garage and his tools. They’ve taken everything away from me.”

Fenech had words of praise for Mater Dei CEO Ivan Falzon and clinical director Joseph Zarb Adami for their support. “Despite this, it seems like the cardiology chairman has some kind of influence that allows him to do what he wants.”

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