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Whistleblower questions medical report

A WHISTLEBLOWER has raised serious questions over the credibility of a report into widespread medical malpractice in Queensland.

The parliamentary crime and misconduct committee released the report, compiled by former judge Richard Chesterman QC, on Monday afternoon following Queensland Health's Ethical Standards Unit member turned whistleblower Jo Barber's allegations of gross and largely ignored medical malpractice with the state health system.

The report recommended the appointment of a legal counsel to investigate the claims but ignored calls for a Royal Commission.

Ms Barber, helped by former Burnett MP Rob Messenger - who also assisted disgraced Dr Jayant Patel whistleblower Toni Hoffman - alleged more than 100 cases of misconduct.

Mr Messenger said on Monday night the report was a big slap in the face for whistleblowers.

"It was always going to be a whitewash," he said.

"The whole process of the assessment has been shrouded in secrecy; it has not been a transparent process at all.

"The people who could corroborate what Jo and I have alleged, it does not seem as though they were spoken to.

"Certainly, the people who were the allegations of our adverse complaints were spoken to but were not spoken to under oath.

"The report is grossly unbalanced; it's misleading by omission."

Claims of malpractice involve 34 deaths on the Sunshine Coast, 37 doctors who operated or treated patients for a year and a half at Bundaberg Hospital without proper credentialing or privileging and a psychopathic Gold Coast doctor currently under investigation for four deaths.

A GP and five nurses from the Sunshine Coast came forward with some of the allegations, Mr Messenger said.

Ms Barber said the investigating health agency knew of a Toowoomba doctor who sexually assaulted child patients on numerous occasions but did nothing about it.

Both Ms Barber and Mr Messenger are calling for a Royal Commission into the alleged malpractice so witnesses and whistleblowers will be able to give evidence under oath and protection.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg welcomed the report's recommendations and said he agreed with the thrust of Mr Chesterman's suggestion that a legal counsel review the various health agencies response to the complaints over the past five years.

"I take particular note of the need for legal scrutiny of cases processed by these agencies over the past five years and for a review of cases in which there was a conflicting response by the agencies concerned," Mr Springborg said.

"These are necessary steps to build public confidence."

He said the operation of several departmental agencies, including the Health Quality Complaints Commission and the Ethical Standards Unit was examined by Mr Chesterman. The actions of the nationwide Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and its Queensland medical board were also considered as part of the process.

"The report will require the clarification of roles between agencies reporting at the state and federal levels," he said. "I will be writing to the Federal Minister to seek her support."

Topics:  report whistleblower


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