‘Don’t judge us over Patel’: overseas doctors

The former Bundaberg-based surgeon was convicted this week of the manslaughter of three patients and causing permanent injury to a fourth.

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His sentencing hearing begins on Thursday.

The Australian Doctors Trained Overseas Association says if proper checks had been carried out on Patel, who had a troubled record with US medical authorities, he would never have been able to practice in Queensland.

It warned overseas-trained doctors (OTDs), who often work in locations where Australian-trained doctors refuse to go, could be driven out of Australia by any “inappropriate negative backlash”.

“The public must be reassured that the Bundaberg tragedy arose from the failure of a dysfunctional health and registration

system,” the association said in a statement.

“(It) is not related to the quality of care provided by overseas-trained doctors.”

It said effective system checks must be in place to ensure professional competence in all doctors, regardless of where they are trained.

“If the government does not address the system failures that led to this tragedy, particularly those relating to the registration and credentialing of all doctors, then the public will continue to be at risk of the impact of rogue doctors.”

The association said overseas trained doctors were often the ones caring for Australians under difficult conditions.

“Not only do they often work where their Australian counterparts refuse to, they are often paid less for the same services,” the association said.

“Overseas trained doctors are already unfairly discriminated against in Australia.

“An inappropriate negative backlash against OTDs in the wake of the Patel case will make a bad situation worse and is likely to drive critically needed OTDs away from Australia.

“This is particularly the case when similar cases involving alleged negligence and criminal acts by Australian-trained doctors have not received nearly the same degree of media coverage and have not resulted in any criminal charges being laid.”

The association called on the Queensland government to show support for overseas-trained doctors, acknowledge the system failures that led to the Patel scandal and fix the problems.

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