Brussels, 7 April 2017
Note to the attention of M. Günther H. OETTINGER,
Commissioner Budget and Human Resources
Subject: Hundreds of medical certificates appear to have gone missing at the Medical Service Ispra
Some time ago, R&D was already called to deal with some serious interpersonal issues at the Medical Service of Ispra, which several colleagues have been victims of.
On that occasion we witnessed our administration’s lethargy in tackling the problem, the slowness of IDOC’s investigation, the opacity in communicating results, and the lack of dealing swiftly to help the victims of this malfunctioning…
It should be noted that, despite the difficult conditions in which the Ispra Medical Service was obliged to work, it has continued to provide a top quality service, to the full satisfaction of its users.
Wanted: hundreds of medical certificates appear to have gone missing at the Medical Service Ispra!
If all that was not enough, we are now told that hundreds of colleagues working at Ispra appear to have received a communication from DG HR informing them that their medical certificates – sent to the Medical Service Ispra and falling under the responsibility of DG HR – have simply and literally disappeared into thin air!
While this may be unbelievable, unfortunately it seems to be the sad reality!
To better understand the seriousness of this incident, it should be noted that the vast majority of medical certificates sent to the Ispra Medical Service, due to the Italian legislation, expressly report the diagnosis identified by the general practitioner!
It is clearly unnecessary to emphasize the dismay of our colleagues, who have so far received no information about the destiny of their personal and highly sensitive data.
Faced with this major malfunctioning, it seems that DG HR’s approach has been absolutely in line with its usual attitude: to minimise all that is impossible to deny, and to trivialise all that is impossible to minimise.
Efforts put in place by DG HR to clarify these events and reassure colleagues were clearly less than effective. As soon as the news about the disappearance of these certificates spread, we were overwhelmed by requests from colleagues, also from other sites, asking us to obtain necessary guarantees and clarifications.
The black hole of inquiries
In astrophysics, a black hole is a celestial body whose gravitational field intensity prevents any substance or irradiation to escape.
This seems to be the nature of the inquiries conducted within our Institution, which last many months and whose results are never communicated – as in this case – even to those directly concerned.
It seems that the best way to be unaccountable for an event consists in the opening of an inquiry, and to then claim the confidential nature of its results.
It is therefore no surprise that this approach has also been scrupulously followed this time.
The disdain for the duty to inform, and to do it in a timely manner
In relation to the disappearance of hundreds of medical certificates, concerned colleagues appear to have been informed that an investigation to shed light on this administrative disaster has been concluded, but its results cannot be communicated due to their confidentiality.
And this applies even to those colleagues that were directly affected, thus preventing them from knowing the results of this inquiry related to the disappearance of their own medical certificates that furthermore detail the medical diagnosis!
In the first place, responsible ways to provide access to the results of an inquiry do exist – for instance by allowing access to the inquiry conclusions in a secure place – reconciling the duty to inform with the confidential nature of the results.
On the other hand, allow us to take the opportunity to note that the only truly confidential documents are the hundreds of medical certificates trustingly handed to DG HR by our colleagues, which are now apparently claimed to be lost, which loss was communicated in a haughty and formal tone, without even the decency to share the conclusions of the investigation!
In this respect, colleagues deeply regret that in its communication DG HR does not appear to have demonstrated any empathy with them or any effort to pay attention to their fully justified concerns, limiting itself to a stony and bureaucratic approach up to the point of fully justifying DG HR’s reputation as “Humans Robotised”.
And furthermore a DG HR that doesn’t even seem to be interested in reassuring colleagues, since it appears to claim that at this stage there is no indication about a possible misuse of these certificates.
It is evident that such an approach is absolutely unacceptable and shameful for an administration with the ambition to be excellent, always assuring respect for its staff.
In consideration of the worries raised also outside Ispra about the possibility that hundreds of medical certificates containing highly sensitive information may have disappeared, as well as the so far completely unsatisfactory management of this case, we are obliged to ask your intervention to throw some light on the full story and grant concerned colleagues all the attention they deserve.
In particular, we ask you to:
- clarify the magnitude and boundaries of this incident at the Ispra Medical Service
- allow all concerned colleagues access to the results of the inquiry that seems to have been conducted, safeguarding their confidential nature as necessary
- draw all the required conclusions and consequences from this major incident
- reassure all staff that all measures to avoid similar incidents in the future have been put in place at all Medical Services of our Institution.
We furthermore advise any affected colleagues, that R&D will make its legal service available in order to assist them in any action that may be needed to defend their rights that have been so blatantly trampled upon!