Malta health care professionals are unhappy with their payouts

The Medical Council of Malta, which is responsible for regulating the healthcare professionals in Malta, has sent a bizarre notification to all Maltese-registered dentists and doctors. In the letter, it complains that it is unable to come to grips with all the tasks it has, that it is grossly underfunded, and most importantly, that its personnel are either not getting paid by the state or are being poorly paid for “the long working hours” they devote trying to deal with council issues.

This letter, which was issued by the registrar of the council Arthur Camilleri for the state President Simon Micallef Stafrace and board members, provides a general outline of the work that the Medical Council is doing as well as the work that council members are doing.

The authority wrote that it was “unhappy to report that councilors were, for many of them, left without payment for all the work they performed  and they had been doing   so because they respected  professional peers and the council’s responsibilities to the general public.” The council emphasized the “countless hours of meetings as well as the “time-consuming discussions and decisions.” The council also stated that it was “frustrated to disclose that councilors were, for the most of them, left unpaid for those work that they did.

As per the letter, which is in some places nearly impossible to decipher caused of frequent grammatical mistakes, the council even suspended its work for the last several months until proper consultations (on payment) materialized, and “the issue has been partly tackled, and we were told that decent payouts will get affected,”  wrote the registrar. 

Complaining that the workload of the council has substantially risen in the past few years, such as through a complaint every two weeks from a member of the general public about certain members of the profession, the registrar wrote that the prevailing legislative framework that underpins the operations of the Medical Council is now inadequate to satisfy demands and that changes are necessary. This is because the council’s volume of work has increased considerably over the last few years.

According to a letter written by the registrar, “unless the legal framework is re-engineered, we consider that regulatory authorities are ill-equipped to handle the legal duties and adequate upkeep of both the dentistry and medical professions.”

The letter from the Medical Council was characterized as “strange” and “confusing” by a number of medical experts who communicated with The Shift.

“We are not in a position to fully comprehend the contents of the letter given that the Medical Council’s primary responsibility is to serve as the governing body for our industry and that its head is appointed by the Office of Personnel Management.” According to a top medical practitioner who spoke with The Shift, “their grievances shouldn’t be addressed to us but rather to the authorities.”

Another individual stated that the letter offers evidence if such a thing was still required, of how much “the Medical Council is not in tune with the international advancements of the medical field.”

The Health Care Professionals Act provides for the appointment of twelve individuals to serve on the Medical Council. Of these individuals, six are chosen by the government or other purportedly “independent” authorities, while the remaining four members are chosen by the practicing medical community.

The current leader of the council is a lawyer, Simon Micallef Stafrace, the son of the former Labour Minister in the past, and he was chosen to his position by Prime Minister Robert Abela.

In spite of the fact that the council is also accountable for maintaining moral guidelines within the medical industry, it has only very infrequently rendered severe judgments against individual dentists and physicians.