Patel sentence today

Dr. Jayant Patel, 60, a Bundaberg Base hospital surgeon has been found criminally negligent in his patient care. He was brought before the court on three accounts of manslaughter and causing grievous harm to another person. The incidents occurred during his tenure at the hospital as Director of Surgery between 2003 and 2005.

His sentencing following a 50 hour deliberation by the jury started in the Supreme Court in Brisbane this morning. He is now also on a precautionary suicide watch. The hearing now has been informed that the doctor was accused of professional misconduct charges dating back to 1982 in the US by Prosecutor Ross Martin. On the accusation the charges were proven and Patel's medical license was suspended, but that order was in itself suspended and Patel was placed on probation. Mr Martin said Patel was certified as a surgeon in the US in 1988 before obtaining a professional license in Oregon in 1989.

In Queensland if manslaughter charges are proven, Patel would face a maximum life sentence and if he is sentenced to 10 years or more, he will automatically be declared to be a serious violent offender and will serve at least 80 per cent of his sentence before being eligible for parole.

The Queensland Government was accused by the State Opposition that Patel’s former patients have not been provided ongoing medical care in the private sector as promised earlier. Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle said, “These people have been to hell and back, they are owed a debt, the debt has got to be paid.” It was revealed that under the Patel Clinical Scheme, these patients have been left to wait on the Bundaberg hospital waiting list despite a promise from the Queensland Government that they would be referred to the private sector with Queensland Health picking up the bill if necessary.

The Queensland Health has defended this by saying that care has been taken and it initially referred patients to the private sector in 2005. Because of the large number of patients involved said QH, the care has been routed through public system.

Wide Bay Health District chief executive officer Kevin Hegarty says Patel's former patients have been given priority care and added, “We do not put them on waiting lists - these patients are a separate cohort with dedicated support staff within the district.” Funds have been provided to more than 2,000 private consultations and QH has spent more than $3 million to provide treatment and travel costs for former Patel patients. He added that Queensland Health had funded 2029 private consultations and 848 private procedures for 300 former patients of Dr. Patel.

According to The Rural Doctors Association of Queensland (RDAQ) there is a darker side to this story. RDAQ spokesman Dan Halliday revealed that half of doctors in rural and regional areas are from overseas and the extra checks on their credentials have made some doctors look elsewhere. He said, “I know of a couple of instances specifically where I believe suitably trained doctors have gone elsewhere, mainly due to the red tape that has been associated with them practicing in Queensland…We believe that the processes that they've put in place on some cases are too onerous and too restrictive, which has prevented a number of medical owners and practitioners staying in, and coming to, Queensland.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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