Shadow Health Minister Brushes Off Sick Leave Abuse Exposé: ‘My Receptionist Answered The Phone’
Stephen Spiteri has been caught selling medical certificates for €5 to patients he hasn't even seen
Shadow health minister Stephen Spiteri has cast doubt on a phonecall recording which revealed he had been selling medical certificates for €5 each without seeing his patients, telling RTK it was his pharmacy’s receptionist - and not himself - who had picked up the phone.
After receiving a tip-off about an alleged medical certificate racket at the Kalkara pharmacy of which Spiteri is resident doctor, Lovin Malta last month posed as a patient and called up the pharmacy.
"Just come here and we’ll write a paper for him with your details, you pay €5 and then you come for it at about 7pm, tomorrow though, because he won't be here," the pharmacy said.
Asked what time Spiteri attended the pharmacy, Lovin Malta was told: "At 10am but he never finishes them at that time because he’ll have many (to sign).”
Spiteri has denied the story and said he has given his version of events to the Malta Medical Council, which is looking into the case before deciding whether or not to launch a formal inquiry. “The phonecall recording wasn’t with me but the receptionist of the pharmacy I work at; she was a receptionist, not even a pharmacist,” Spiteri said when called up by RTK’s Newsline.
“She was prompted and led on to tell the caller what he wanted to hear. Since I didn’t say those words myself, I cannot comment further at this stage. Obviously, I take responsibility for every medical act I have carried out and every medical certificate I have signed.”
The Malta Employers’ Association has called for an investigation into the abusive issuance of medical certificates in the wake of both the Spiteri case and a Times of Malta report that paid sick leave cost the government a ten-year-high of €50 million in 2015.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has used the case to dismiss Spiteri’s credibility in speaking about the health sector, but health minister Chris Fearne has so far not attempted to take any political mileage out of it.