Doctors among 55 ‘absenteeists’ held at Naples hospital

Naples, Feb 24 (IANS/AKI) Doctors and nurses were among 55 people arrested in Naples on Friday for absenteeism at the city’s Loreto Mare hospital and 94 others are being investigated.

Technicians and administrative staff, some of whom are union representatives, were also among those arrested following a two-year fraud investigation.

A hospital doctor was filmed by investigators taking a taxi to play tennis during work hours, and another suspect was recorded swiping the electronic badges of up to 20 other absentee colleagues to make it appear they were on duty.

One suspect tasked by the hospital with monitoring colleagues clocking in and out allegedly worked as a hotel chef while on duty at the hospital while other employees went shopping.

To prevent disruption to patients, 50 out of the 55 employees arrested on Friday were ordered to turn up for work, Naples daily Il Mattino cited Naples Prosecutor Nunzio Fragliasso as telling a media conference.

“They will have to go to work and will return to house arrest when they are off duty… police will ensure they respect their work hours,” Fragliasso said.

Asked to comment on Friday’s operation, Naples health authority managing director Elia Abbondante was tight-lipped.

“I need to see the legal documents and will act accordingly,” he said.

“That’s all I can say at present,” Abbondante added.

Italian authorities are trying to crack down on widespread fraud by goldbrickers, especially in southern hospitals, local health authorities and town councils.

Last July, nine local health authority workers in Caserta, near Naples were arrested for allegedly going shopping, taking and collecting their children from school and moonlighting during their work hours, abetted by colleagues who clocked in for them.