Queensland’s health minister says the national regulator is taking its time to act against a doctor accused of botching four operations.
The national health regulator isn’t acting quickly enough against a doctor accused of a string of serious surgical errors, Queensland’s health minister says.
A urologist has been stood down from Rockhampton Hospital while he is being investigated for allegedly botching four operations.
He’s accused of misdiagnosing a twisted testicle causing it to ultimately be removed, taking out a patient’s right kidney instead of the diseased left one, nicking another’s artery and incorrectly positioning a stent.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA) said on Tuesday that it was reviewing the urologist’s registration “as a priority”, but is yet to make a ruling.
While the doctor has voluntarily stepped down from his private roles, he is still technically able to work in the sector.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said problems with APHRA would hopefully be fixed when the state takes control of notifications and serious complaints through an appointed health ombudsman from July 1.
“I’ve previously indicated my concerns about how long it takes the national health regulator to respond, but I don’t control that national regulator,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Mr Springborg said he was happy with the Central Queensland Hospitals and Health (CQHH) board’s swift response to stand down the doctor and sack the hospital’s director of surgery and the acting executive director of medical services.
He also said it was “refreshingly honest” of board chairman Charles Ware to concede there was a systemic failure at the hospital.
The health minister said that’s why he was not travelling to Rockhampton to oversee the controversy.
“If this was in the old days … the only thing they did was cover-up,” he said, referring to the notorious Dr Jayant Patel saga.
“There is nothing they (health board) have done that requires intervention centrally and nor should there be other than them asking us to conduct independent investigations and that has been done.”
Mr Springborg said the incident was isolated and reflected on the individual doctor, not against all foreign-trained doctors.
The urologist, from South America, trained in medicine in Spain and then went on to gain specialist qualifications in London, where he was awarded honours.
He later came to Australia where he underwent two further years of training and won accreditation in 2011 to practise unsupervised, including the right to train other doctors.
“There is no evidence there is any greater issue with doctors that are trained in Australia or overseas,” Mr Springborg said.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said the government had added to the issues by cutting 80 patient care jobs designed to stop a “Patel-like situation” recurring.
“No longer can the health minister hide behind these health boards,” she said.
“He is directly responsible and it is about time he stepped up to the plate and took full and complete responsibility.”