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Malta today article - on Surgeon's Salary - 24/7/2005

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Revered surgeon struck ‘below the belt’ by colleagues

Michaela Muscat

An attack that was “below the belt” is how friends of the charismatic cardiac surgeon Alex Manché described the recent actions by the Medical Association of Malta.
In an official letter sent last week, Surgeon Walter Busuttil and MAM referred to the generous pay-packet received by Manché, and warned health officials that unless they offered equal remuneration to all doctors they would face legal action.
Busuttil has filed a complaint through his lawyer Dr George Abela, saying he was being discriminated against for not being paid the same salary as Manché. Busuttil alleged that Manché earned significantly higher wages for the same job description.
Manché’s salary, which according to MAM amounts to Lm45,000, is considerably higher than that of other surgeons. Yet MAM failed to mention that one of Manché’s working conditions stipulates that he cannot own a private practice which more often than not provides underpaid doctors with a means to earn a decent livelihood and more.
“Owning a practice doesn’t prevent Busuttil from fulfilling his duties responsibly. One rightly expects that all doctors employed in the public health service should give the best possible to their patients irrespective of whether they do public practice or not.” Dr Stephen Fava, MAM President, said.
“Patient surveys, health outcome statistics and the tremendous throughput in all departments show that most, if not all, doctors do give an excellent service. The government should therefore stop discriminating and give all doctors a decent pay-packet.”
Busuttil is however allowed to earn a considerable amount of money as part of his occupancy at St James private hospital, amongst others. Manché is not able to have a private practice since he is bound by contract to work solely at the state hospital.
Fava retorted that other surgeons “weren’t offered the same conditions and salaries, not even those doing the same work.” He insisted that either way it was irrelevant whether doctors worked in a private practice since the way they occupied their free time was their own business.
Former patients were quick to jump to Manché’s defence who is renowned for his charm and for the amount of care and attention that he lavishes on his patients. Accustomed to the sometimes pompous behaviour of Maltese doctors, patients often remark how grateful they are of his down to earth attitude and the genuine attention that he reserves to patients even long after they are no longer under his care at St Luke’s hospital.




 
 
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