Cardiac surgeon attacked at St Luke's - 11/6/2006

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Cardiac surgeon attacked at St Luke's
Cynthia Busuttil

A leading cardiac surgeon was assaulted at St Luke's Hospital yesterday as he made his way to the operating theatre after pointing out to a member of the public that he should not be smoking.

Sources told The Times that Alex Manché was punched in the head and neck when he was surrounded by a group of people as soon as he passed the remark. They hurled obscenities at the surgeon before at least one of them attacked him physically.

Smoking inside the hospital is banned.

Hospitals director John Cachia and St Luke's Hospital superintendent Frank Bartolo have condemned the attack.

This was not the first time that a health professional has been attacked while carrying out his duties. Dr Bartolo said a woman doctor was recently dragged by the hair along a hospital corridor.

Yesterday's assault was aggravated by the fact that Mr Manché was on his way to perform an operation.

Dr Cachia said the Health Division had consistently adopted a policy of zero tolerance on violence. Also condemning the attack, Medical Association of Malta general secretary Martin Balzan said violence was unacceptable especially when it involved people who were carrying out their duty.

The MAM had taken a strong stand on the enforcement of smoking regulations.

Police Inspector Mario Tonna is heading the investigation. Two men gave statements to the police.

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