Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.
Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.

Coast deaths linked to doctors

REGULATORY authorities have failed to properly investigate allegations of malpractice, criminal behaviour including fraud, the illegal use of and over prescription of controlled drugs and sexual misconduct with patients on the Sunshine Coast, angry whistleblowers have claimed.

They have told the Sunshine Coast Daily that at least 12 deaths may have been resulted from inappropriate prescribing practices.

Complaints about some doctors go back almost a decade and are ongoing.

Representatives of the group will this weekend meet Jo Barber, the former senior investigator and manager of the Medical Board of Queensland's complaints unit, as calls grow for a Royal Commission into health services in Queensland.

Ms Barber, also a former Queensland Criminal Investigation Branch officer, has gathered statements from doctors across the state alleging malpractice by some of their colleagues.

She said that while the number of rogue doctors was low, their potential impact was enormous with each medical practitioner potentially treating upward of 1000 patients.

The Coast whistleblower group which includes doctors and nurses has completely lost confidence in the capacity of the Drugs Dependency Unit, the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority and the Health Quality Complaints Commission to properly investigate complaints against doctors and nurses.

They are also frustrated at the slow response by Queensland Police to formal allegations made about criminal behaviour by some doctors here.

"There are systemic problems," one doctor said.

"The regulatory authorities are doing nothing.

"They need to interview people. Serious issues need to be closely examined.

"The regulatory authorities are not up to the job."

Allegations include sexual abuse of patients, drug use by doctors, fraudulent Medicare billing and inappropriate prescription of controlled drugs

The group has written to Premier Campbell Newman and Health Minister Lawrence Springborg.

A spokesman for Mr Springborg said he was now considering a departmental briefing on the matter.

Ms Barber said she had separately received serious allegations of sexual misconduct of patients by one doctor on the Coast.

Legal restrictions prevent the Daily from publishing further details.

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