Nigerian-born Gladstone doctor wins case against Medical Board

GLADSTONE doctor Sunday Joseph Ofili struggled to convince the Medical Board he had the communication skills needed to do his job properly - but he has easily won over an appeals body and in the process given the board a bloody nose.

Nigerian-raised and British-trained, Dr Ofili has won a Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal case against the Medical Board of Australia after the tribunal found that the board wrongly imposed conditions on his provisional registration.

Despite eventually being granted full general registration, Dr Ofili took the tribunal action and continued it to make sure the conditions on his provisional registration were proven to be not needed at the time.

And he won resoundingly.

Sunday Joseph Ofili has won tribunal action against the Medical Board of Australia.
Sunday Joseph Ofili has won tribunal action against the Medical Board of Australia.

The tribunal finding said that without speaking to him, a Medical Board committee imposed the conditions after incorrectly finding he had some communication issues - apparently based on a "ticks in boxes"-only assessment by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.

The decision, released late last week, found the Medical Board committee ignored a favourable report done by his Gladstone GP Super Clinic supervisor, Dr Lola Kerr (October 2014), in which he was assessed as having performed consistently above the level expected including all communication categories.

"(The college assessment) had chosen to completely disregard the comments of the very doctors who had been approved to provide the daily supervision and training of Dr Ofili," Judge Suzanne Sheridan found.

She said their supervisor reports had been "glowing".

In evidence before the tribunal, Dr Ofili had done a communication assessment (at his own expense) with the Clinical Skills Development Service.

In the report given to the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Authority, he passed every aspect of the assessment: "Dr Ofili has excellent listening, reading and writing skills. Dr Ofili is a very effective communicator..., augmented by his professional and compassionate interpersonal skills. His history-taking skills were systematic and thorough".

But when Dr Ofili requested the report be made available to the board, he was told the review time for changes to his provisional licence was 12 months. However, due to Dr Ofili's insistence, the issue went back before the authority committee in October 2015, along with a favourable report by his experienced Gladstone supervisor Dr Kerr.

Dr Kerr stated: "There is no problem with Dr Ofili's communication skills.

"We have 17 doctors in this practice - he is equal to all other doctors in his communication skills.

"I am observing him every day. ACCRM (the college) assessed him on the basis of some ticks in boxes without ever speaking to him. How can this be fair and reasonable?

"(He) does not require level 2 supervision."

Judge Sheridan found Dr Kerr "was making it very clear" as to what she thought of the Medical Board decision.

Evidence before the tribunal shows the Medical Board in November 2015 decided to remove the conditions it imposed, saying it was the result of "new information".

It stated: "Your communication skills have been assessed as excellent in the required Communication Assessment completed by CSDS. You are an effective communicator."

It deemed him qualified to apply for general registration.

When he did apply, Dr Ofili was granted general registration from November 26, 2015.

However, Judge Sheridan found he had completed 12 months of satisfactory supervision and was qualified for general registration from October 30, 2014.

The doctor's frustrations in Queensland began after he started working here to fill an area of health need in August 2013 at Gladstone Valley Medical Centre.

Dr Ofili then worked at the Gladstone GP Super Clinic from April 2014 under a Supervised Practice Plan by supervising doctors who completed satisfactory reports on his work performance.

Dr Ofili, who represented himself, won costs from the board but was denied damages.

Dr Ofili said the QCAT decision reflected what both parties (Dr. Ofili and the Medical Board) always knew was going to be the outcome. "It reflects what any intelligent observer of the hearing would have deduced from the hearing," he said.

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