A pensioner whose wife suffers from malignant melanoma is appealing to the authorities to improve the inefficiency and "lack of transparency" within the Medical Council after he filed a complaint of unprofessional behaviour and medical neglect against his wife's consultant.
Frank Muscat, 69, of Sliema said his wife and himself had been through a nightmare since she was diagnosed with the disease two years ago - and not just as a result of her physical condition.
Mr Muscat claimed that the consultant who looked after his wife acted unprofessionally and on one occasion even turned up at Ms Muscat's room for a consultation with his own family.
To add insult to injury, Mr Muscat said, the Medical Council took seven months to deal with his complaint about the consultant and then brushed it aside without giving any reasons for its decision.
"I am not after financial compensation but someone has to speak out because certain malpractices have to stop. New structures need to be set up and the Medical Council must become more transparent," he said.
Mrs Muscat was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in July 2002 and required an intermediate operation. Mr Muscat records in his chronology of events that 13 days after the diagnosis was confirmed the consultant "turned up with his wife and child at Mrs Muscat's room... Mrs Muscat felt uncomfortable seeing (his) wife and child, complete strangers to her, in her hospital bedroom without prior notification and her consent".
Mr Muscat also lists a number of other shortcomings in relation to the professional treatment his wife received from the consultant up until the point they terminated relations with him. He said he had also tried to make contact with the consultant in order to reach an amicable solution to their dispute with him but his calls or letters were never returned.
Mr Muscat then decided to lodge a complaint of unprofessional behaviour against the consultant with the Medical Council on December 1, 2003. He also asked for a copy of the consultant's own records on his wife, which the couple had never received.
Mr Muscat said in his letter to the council: "We still do not understand why his records should be shrouded in mystery... I think the council should order (the consultant) to furnish me and my wife with his records."
However, the situation only went from bad to worse, according to Mr Muscat, who said he received no acknowledgment from the council to his letter. And when he tried to chase the matter up over several months by telephone he was told the council had not yet been reconstituted.
In exasperation, Mr Muscat sent an e-mail to the Medical Council's registrar, Herbert Guillaumier, on June 17 of this year. It stated: "As to this date, I am still totally in the dark about the progress, if any, of my application... In July 2004, two years will have passed since my wife was operated on... as a result, I have legally only one more month to take the case to court should I so decide".
Two weeks later Mr Muscat received the following concise reply in a letter from Mr Guillaumier: "I am directed to inform you that the Medical Council is fully satisfied with the written explanation (of the consultant) and is not proceeding with an inquiry".
No reasons were given and Mr Muscat has still not seen the consultant's "written explanation" in spite of his requests.
Mr Muscat then asked Mr Guillaumier whether the Medical Council had considered his complaint to be "frivolous and unjustified" but he has received no reply on that point.
Mr Muscat said he turned to the media because he did not wish to pursue the matter in court for a number of reasons - not least because of his wife's condition - but he wanted something to be done about the situation.
On July 20, The Times sent a list of questions to Mr Guillaumier in relation to Mr Muscat's case and received the following response: "I hereby acknowledge receipt of your mail which I will be putting on the agenda for the council's next meeting. Unfortunately, I cannot give you the exact date for this meeting as next week I will be on post operation sick leave. I will though give you the required information as soon as possible".
At the time of going to print, no information has been received in spite of another written request.