Patel whistleblower seeks compo
THE whistleblowing nurse who exposed killer Bundaberg Hospital surgeon Jayant Patel is seeking $400,000 compensation from Queensland Health.
Toni Hoffman also claims she is being ostracised by the corporate section of the organisation for having spoken out.
Lawyers for the nurse lodged her compensation claim in the District Court in Brisbane this week.
Ms Hoffman said yesterday she was seeking compensation for stress and the financial losses she had suffered leading up to and during Patel's manslaughter trial last year.
She said she was refused special leave to attend the trial and had to use up all her annual leave instead.
Ms Hoffman, who still works in the intensive care unit at the hospital, said she was disappointed at the way she was being treated by Queensland Health.
"I found it really hard to focus on my job when the trial was going on, and Queensland Health refused my request for special leave," she said.
"Basically there was a total lack of support."
Ms Hoffman said she was on WorkCover for some time and had lost a substantial amount of money.
She issued a plea to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh to examine the way she had been treated for the past six years.
She said she had the impression Queensland Health was hoping she would just go away.
"It's soul destroying," she said.
"I work in an organisation that doesn't know how to support its employees when the chips are down.
"But hopefully there will be enough public pressure on the premier to adequately compensate me."
Ms Hoffman said Queensland Health seemed to support people better when they were doing the wrong thing, rather than when they were doing the right thing.
She said her life had been particularly difficult at the beginning of the scandal involving Patel because he had a lot of support at the hospital at the time.
Ms Hoffman's lawyers, Maurice Blackburn, said she had suffered psychologically and financially due to her role in exposing Patel.
"It is an outrage that Queensland Health did not give her the support she needed to get on with her life and now refuses to acknowledge her latest claim," senior partner Peter Koutsoukis said.
"Her claim for $400,000 includes past and future loss of income, medical expenses and loss of superannuation income."
In June 2010, Patel was sentenced to seven years jail on three counts of manslaughter and one of grievous bodily harm.