MAM president on foriegn doctors
From the TIMES
Foreign doctors' employment conditions
Stephen Fava, president, Medical Association of Malta.
I refer to comments made by Harry Vassallo on foreign doctors and MAM (August 20).
Contrary to what was stated by Dr Vassallo, MAM is not an association for Maltese doctors only. MAM's statute makes it open to any doctor who is registrable with the Medical Council of Malta and is therefore authorised to work locally, irrespective of his or her nationality. Some foreign doctors have confided in their Maltese colleagues that in the past they were "discouraged" from joining MAM or any other union as this would not have been appreciated when it came to renewing their contracts.
MAM has always objected to the fact that foreign doctors are employed under different conditions of work and are not always required to have the same qualifications and/or experience as their Maltese colleagues. The level of qualification and experience that is acceptable for an overseas doctor recruited directly to work for the Maltese Health Department should also be acceptable for a Maltese doctor and vice-versa. However, MAM's objections have always fallen on deaf ears. The standard excuse that foreign doctors are employed on renewable contract basis does not hold water. If a Maltese and foreign doctor are doing the same job, they should be required to have the same or equivalent qualifications and experience.
MAM did not negotiate foreign doctors' contracts and the government never published such contracts. Hence, MAM is not aware of their exact content. However, it is an open secret that foreign doctors initially had far better financial conditions than their Maltese counterparts, largely because they were given a number of perks. However, over the years these perks were not upgraded and have therefore now lost much of their value, except for a privileged few who continue to have very lucrative contracts.
From unofficial information available to MAM, it would appear that the government is claiming that foreign doctors have no pension rights. Since MAM does not have all the necessary documentation, I cannot comment on the legal validity of this argument. However, the problem all stems from the fact of having individual contracts. In the UK, no health authority would ever dream of offering contracts to doctors, irrespective of their nationality, that are not those approved by the British Medical Association. In Malta, successive governments have thought otherwise.