Woman 'scarred' by former doctor

Eleonor Lambert and Member for Burnett Rob Messenger go through documentation relative to her surgery.
Eleonor Lambert and Member for Burnett Rob Messenger go through documentation relative to her surgery. Mike Knott

BUNDABERG Hospital has hit back at “old” allegations against a former Bundaberg Hospital gynecologist and obstetrician, after another former patient came forward with complaints against him.

South Kolan woman Eleonor Lambert said she suffered in pain for almost four years after Hewawelengodage Wimalasiri Wijeratne allegedly botched a bladder operation on her in 2002.

Mrs Lambert said Dr Wijeratne put two stitches through her bladder, but it was not until 2005 that the mistake was discovered.

She said she “could not believe it” when it was reported that Dr Wijeratne was still practising as a gynaecologist and obstetrician for public hospitals in Queensland.

Speaking at a press conference organised by Member for Burnett Rob Messenger, Mrs Lambert said she was speaking out now to try to ensure other people did not have to go through the same thing.

“This is the first time we have been able to get in touch with anyone about it,” she said.

Mrs Lambert took legal action against Dr Wijeratne and Queensland Health in 2005. She said it took nine operations to correct the original mistake and she had since received a compensation pay out.

Dr Wijeratne has come under heavy scrutiny in recent weeks after a number of patients spoke in a documentary regarding his treatment.

The surgeon left full-time work at Bundaberg Hospital nine months ago to become a locum doctor with a private agency.

Wide Bay Health Service District executive director of medical services Tim Smart said the claim was more than a decade old.

He said Queensland Health was not able to confirm a legal settlement before the NewsMail went to print.

“Until this can be confirmed, it would be inappropriate to make any comment due to possible issues of privacy and legal confidentiality around any possible settlement,” Dr Smart said.

“As previously stated on a number of occasions, any complaints about the doctor concerned were identified and addressed.”

It was released last week that 27 complaints had been made against the doctor in a 10-year period.

Seven of those were clinical, while the others related to communication issues.

Dr Smart said Dr Wijeratne had been registered with both the independent Queensland Medical Board and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

“At all times during the term of his employment, this doctor held full specialist registration and was properly credentialed,” Dr Smart said.

Mr Messenger said he still wanted the health minister to confirm that Dr Wijeratne was fully credentialed at all times.

“That needs to be proven by the hospital now,” he said.

“They simply can’t put out these statements (without proof of evidence).”

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