Acting Chair of Oncology resigned of own accord – Ministry
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The Department of Health has said in a statement that it “believes it has a duty to inform the general public of the real facts pertaining to publicity being given around the case of Dr Stephen Brincat, former acting Chair of Oncology.”
The Department of Health said that “Dr Brincat resigned on his own accord, and was not coerced or pressured to resign. His resignation came after a series of issues in which Dr Brincat had a different point of view to the Department of Health.”
“Most recently,” the Departmentt of Health continued, “Dr Brincat had made known his views regarding the provision of chemotherapy services in Gozo. Dr Brincat has strongly opposed attempts to introduce chemotherapy services in Gozo over the past months, on the premise that Gozitan medical and nursing staff do not have the required expertise.
“However the Oncology Department never came forward with a plan to train and supervise such staff. It is a pity that the Department had to resort to overriding Dr Brincat on this issue which is all about better access and quality of life for Gozitan patients. One of the excuses given has been the lack of medical human resources.”
“Whilst other specialities have strong specialist training programmes in place, the Department of Oncology has not yet managed to develop a robust training programme which is key to recruitment and retention of medical specialist staff. Indeed, the post for training coordinator in this speciality was not even filled as nobody applied. In fact it has proven to be an uphill struggle to attract and retain qualified and experienced staff to work within this department, both medical as well as supporting paramedical staff,” the statement said.
The Department of Health stated, “in anticipation of the opening of the new oncology centre, has, for years, been trying to introduce new and innovative practices in order to ensure quality standards for cancer patients. An internal report cites the lack of a multidisciplinary approach with teamwork and communication difficulties in the department as important factors hindering the development of a quality system.”
“In line with the plans for the new Oncology Centre, there is going to be a consolidation of certain clinical services which have common features and share common practices.” The Department of Health went on to say, “hence it was decided to have oncology (solid cancers) and haematology (blood cancers) within the same department and in the same location. Dr Brincat is opposed the concept that these specialities should share a common Clinical Administration and promptly handed in his resignation when the call for Clinical Chair in anticipation of the new Oncology centre was issued.”
The Department of Health said that it “strongly denies that the National Cancer Plan was not discussed with its professionals. On the contrary, the plan was drawn up after an extensive consultation process with all stakeholders which took place over several months and was duly documented. Dr Brincat had also some months ago resigned from the national committee steering the implementation of the cancer plan because of his reservations on the change in the role description for the new Clinical Chair position in the new Cancer centre.”
“Whilst the Department acknowledges the clinical contribution that Dr Brincat has given to hundreds of patients over the years, the Department of Health has to continue in its mission of establishing policy and implementing strategy in the sole interest of the patient,” the statement concluded.