Whitewash! Health boss "not responsible"

If not he, who? He received complaints but did nothing significant about them -- while people died!

The former head of Queensland Health has been cleared of any wrong doing in his handling of complaints made about convicted killer surgeon Dr Jayant Patel. Dr Gerry Fitzgerald was the Chief Health Officer of Queensland Health in 2004-05 during Dr Patel's stay at Bundaberg Base Hospital.

Dr Fitzgerald, who is now Professor of Public Health at QUT, was a witness at the Morris Inquiry and the Davies Inquiry into the health system in 2005. As a result of findings in the Davies Inquiry he was referred to the Health Practitioners Tribunal to face five disclipinary charges. In short they involved allegations about the manner in which he handled complaints about Patel and surgery at the Bundaberg Hospital.

The HPT heard the charges in a closed court late last year. It was decided that to hold the hearing in an open court would prejudice the criminal trial of Dr Patel which was finalised in June this year.

Patel was convicted on three (three) counts of manslaughter and one of causing grievous bodily harm to patients at the Bundaberg Hospital between 2003 and 2005.

At the end of the HPT hearing the charges against Dr Fitzgerald were dismissed and costs ordered against the Medical Board. But all information was the subject of a suppression order.

In a written judgment which became available in Brisbane this morning, Judge Debbie Richards, sitting on the HPT, said as the trial of Dr Patel was finalised the suppression order on Dr Fitzgerald's case should be lifted.

She said two key witnesses believed Dr Fitzgerald's actions had not (NOT)fallen short of those required of a competent Chief Health Officer. [In other words, he was let off because his friends stood up for him, not because of any evidence] "In the view of the Tribunal there is no case for Dr Fitzgerald to answer in relation to these allegations," Judge Richards said.


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