Protest against MAM by Security Guards - 14/7/2004

Hospital security staff reject MAM claims
Claudia Calleja

Fifteen members of the security staff at St Luke's Hospital yesterday filed a judicial protest against the Medical Association of Malta over allegations made at a news conference during which the association claimed that the staff were not in their post when two doctors were assaulted at the hospital last week.

Principal security officer Godwin Attard, security officer Carmelo Attard and security guards Grezzju Abela, Saviour Agius, Robert Attard, Anthony Caruana, Emmanuel Cuschieri, Jesmond Farrugia, Joseph Gauci, Joseph Mangion, Mannes Pace, Doris Schembri, Joseph Spiteri, John Peter Spiteri and Francis Vasssalo claimed that such allegations were unfounded as they gave the public the wrong impression that they were not at their place of work when they were supposed to be.

Moreover, they claimed they had been exposed to, or could be exposed to disciplinary proceedings and therefore to irreparable damage and held the association liable in any damages suffered as a result of its illegal and abusive action.

In the writ, signed by Dr Jason Azzopardi and Dr Kris Busietta, the 15 security personnel explained that on July 7 they started work at 7 p.m. and their shift ended on July 8 at 7 a.m.

When the assault on the two doctors took place, on July 8 at about 1 a.m., Agius, Caruana and Gauci were posted at three different doors in the casualty department. At about 1 a.m. they heard shouting coming from behind the swinging doors that lead into the cubicles inside the department. The three men ran towards the swinging doors and saw a man and woman walk out, screaming. The woman tried to go back inside and the three men stopped her.

John Peter Spiteri, Godwin and Carmelo Attard and Pace arrived on the scene and John Peter Spiteri tried to contact the police officer on duty at the hospital but did not manage as his pager was switched off. So he called the hospital operator and the police headquarters.

The 15 staff members explained that in practice they never entered the cubicle, where patients were treated, unless they were asked to via the PA system and this did not happen on the day of the incident.

During a news conference held outside the law courts yesterday morning Dr Azzopardi, flanked by the 15 security staff members, General Workers' Union representative Manuel Cuschieri and Union Haddiema Maghqudin representative Tony Galea, noted that through the judicial protest his clients were rebutting and denying the allegations made by the association.

He explained that his clients sympathised with the doctors who had been assaulted and in no way wished to diminish the gravity of the case. But it was not fair for 15 people to be defamed by the association, he said.

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