Call for applications for cardiac surgeon - The Times - 19/5/2006

Call for applications for cardiac surgeon
Heart specialist Alex Manchè on casual contract
Cynthia Busuttil
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A call for applications for the post of consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at St Luke's Hospital closes today and, until the post is filled, cardiac surgeon Alex Manchè, whose contract expired on April 1, is providing his services on a "casual" basis.

The Medical Association of Malta (MAM) said last year Mr Manchè earned Lm60,000, a year, a figure which other medical quarters said was significantly inflated. The salary attached to the post being advertised stands at Lm10,503.

Mr Manchè's had been bound by contract not to carry out private practice. The post to be filled, however, allows the appointee to undertake private practice if this is carried out outside official working hours and the work does not interfere or conflict with his/her official duties or with the exigencies of the service.

Contacted by The Times, the director general of health, Ray Busuttil, confirmed that Mr Manchè's contract had expired and that a call for applications had been published in the Government Gazette.

The MAM had voiced complaints about "discrimination" between two surgeons. In a legal letter on behalf of cardiac surgeon Walter Busuttil, the association had claimed that Mr Busuttil was being discriminated against because he was offered a less favourable salary and working conditions compared to Mr Manchè's, claiming that both were doing the same work.

Asked whether MAM's complaints had triggered the decision not to renew Mr Manchè's contract, the director general of health said it was the association's prerogative to complain, adding that God forbid that the authorities would act on all its complaints.

No further legal action was taken following the judicial letter.

The head of the health department said that Mr Manchè's contract had an in-built clause stating it could be extended, and, in fact, last year, the authorities extended it for another year. However, it could not be extended again and so the health authorities decided to issue the call for applications.

Apart from Mr Manchè, there are two other consultant cardiothoracic surgeons at St Luke's.

Mr Manchè had a definite contract while the other two had a permanent post. The post being advertised will also be a permanent one.

Dr (Ray) Busuttil underlined the fact that the authorities did what they felt was in the best interest of the department. "At this point in time we felt this was the type of call that was indicated," he said.

Contacted, Mr Manchè said that as he intended to apply for the job being advertised, he preferred not to comment at this stage. He confirmed he is still serving at St Luke's.

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