Patel: A $9m mistake

AT least $9 million in taxpayer funds are believed to have been wasted on bringing Jayant Patel to justice - a situation that could have been prevented by a simple reference check.

Patel, 60, was convicted on Tuesday of the manslaughter of Mervyn Morris, Gerry Kemps and James Phillips.

He was also convicted of causing the grievous bodily harm of Ian Vowles.

He will be sentenced this morning.

The charges related to Patel’s time as head of surgery between 2003 and 2005 at Bundaberg Hospital, whose management emlpoyed him without checking his credentials, it was later revealed.

Had they done that, they would have discovered Patel had been banned in the US from performing some surgeries without supervision – surgeries that later killed patients in Bundaberg.

The saga has now left a huge hole in state funds.

The cost of the more than 14-week trial has reached about $3.1 million, and it has been reported the costs of the Morris and Davis inquiries reached a whopping $5.6 million.

The trial costs include Patel’s extradition, legal costs and his living expenses.

A spokesman for Queensland Police said extradition costs totalled $14,937.38.

As a part of the extradition process Queensland Police took on the living costs of Patel until he was committed to stand trial, which totalled just over $38,400.

But the true cost of the saga could be much higher, as they do not include the costs of the police investigation, nor the compensation given to patients under the Bundaberg Special Process.

Through the scheme, 388 claims were made, 296 have been resolved and three are yet to be determined.

The entire cost of that compensation will not be made public until the final claim has been resolved.

Costs related to Patel may further balloon, with a class action by the patients foreshadowed and a further trial of one grievous bodily harm charge and eight fraud charges yet to be heard.

But the monetary costs pale in comparison to what some of Patel’s victims have gone through.

One victim, Linda Parsons, said the nightmare was something she would never be able to forget, even though she was trying to move on.

The mother, whose hernia operation went “very, very badly wrong”, said was trying to leave the “disastrous” surgery in the past.

“I’ve been doing really well lately,” she said.

“Thank God there has been some justice.

“(The verdict) is such a huge thing for not just the families and patients, but for Bundaberg as well.”

Case leads to medical board system overhaul

THE Medical Board of Queensland has said it learned a lot from the Jayant Patel saga.

A spokeswoman told the NewsMail the system of getting on to their registration list had been overhauled as a result of the Patel crisis.

“We have put in heaps of different measures to stop this sort of thing from happening,” a spokeswoman said.

“There have been a lot of changes with checking registrations and credentials.”

Among the changes are requesting good standing certificates from everywhere a doctor has worked and having their qualifications verified by an international service, English language testing, clinical interviews and multiple choice tests.

Dr Patel was on the board's register from April 2003 until March 2005, when complaints surfaced causing the board to suspend his registration, which later lapsed.

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