Rape doctor scandal: case review

QUEENSLAND Minister for Health Geoff Wilson has called for a complete overhaul of how health professionals are regulated in Australia after a Fraser Coast Chronicle article revealed a convicted rapist is in line to have his registration to practise medicine renewed.

Mr Wilson has requested the case of Hervey Bay doctor Dr James Samuel Manwaring be subject to immediate review.

The minister has also written to all health ministers in Australia calling for a review of the national registration standards for doctors.

A Fraser Coast Chronicle investigation led to the Department of Justice confirming that James Samuel Manwaring was convicted of rape, attempted rape, deprivation of liberty, three counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and a single count of common assault on September 2, 2002.

The Health Practitioners Tribunal ordered Dr Manwaring be erased from the medical register at a hearing on July 19, 2005.

Despite repeated requests by the Fraser Coast Chronicle, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal – which has now absorbed the role and supposedly the records of the Health Practitioners Tribunal – has been unable to explain what sanctions, if any, Dr Manwaring faced in the intervening 34 months before he was struck off the register.

Dr Manwaring had been previously cancelled from the medical register in 1994 for drug addiction and misconduct.

Serious doubts now exist as to the coherence of the transfer of databases to QCAT from superseded medical tribunals.

Questions also surround the rigour of the screening processes that apply when doctors apply for registration or renewals and what weight is given to conviction for serious crimes of violence or of a sexual nature.

The Health Practitioners Regulation National Law Act 2009 was passed amid much fanfare about how the medical professions and the public would benefit from having an overarching national system.

It created the Medical Board of Australia, the AHPRA, and a structure that permitted delegation of full and formal powers to state boards to oversee registrations and administration of complaints.

The entire structure has been bedevilled by problems and is now to be subject to further inquiry as a mass wave of renewals and applications for registration from the medical profession fall due on June 30.

“I personally find it hard to believe that a doctor who has been convicted – relatively recently – of violent crimes would be fit to practise,” Mr Wilson said.

“There would need to be extraordinary mitigating circumstances.

“That's why I have now written to the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency to ask them to review this case.

“I understand AHPRA is reviewing its decision right now.

“I have also written to AHPRA to seek to have the National Registration Standard reviewed by the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council.”

The council is made up of health ministers of the governments from all states and territories and the Commonwealth.

A cursory search on the internet will reveal that across Australia there are doctors currently registered who have been convicted of serious offences, sometimes of a sexual nature, that would prohibit an individual working as a teacher or police officer.

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