Board adjourns Patel action

THE Medical Board of Queensland's moves to prevent Dr Patel from practising again and holding him responsible for keeping his past a secret, have been put aside in favour of the potential criminal case against the surgeon.

The media converged on the Brisbane Courthouse yesterday for what they believed was a directions hearing before the Health Practitioners Tribunal, but the matter was adjourned.

The Board's executive officer Jim O'Dempsey said his office received a request from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that they seek and adjournment.

The Board's lawyer Paul McCowan told the Tribunal the DPP's case was expected to move "fairly imminently".

The Tribunal agreed to adjourn the matter for six months.

In December 2005, the Board laid formal charges against Dr Patel, relating to the clinical treatment of eight patients at Bundaberg Base Hospital and allegations that he misled the Board during his registration to practice in Queensland.

Patel's lawyers have indicated their client will defend the charges.

Mr O'Dempsey said the Board agreed to seek the adjournment so the DPP were able to effectively proceed on offences under the Queensland Criminal Code.

"Our legal advice is that disciplinary charges of 'unsatisfactory professional conduct' against Patel do not legally impede actions by the police, the DPP or other jurisdictions," Mr O'Dempsey said.

"However, there is an evidential overlap in a number of the charges."

The charges against Dr Patel include performing surgical procedures on patients including Gerard Kemps, in a manner constituting unsatisfactory professional conduct.

Under the Health Practitioners (Professional Standards) Act 1999, Patel faces a maximum penalty of $100,000 and permanent deregistration in Queensland and notification of the penalty to medical boards worldwide.

Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare said she would not end speculation on the status of the criminal case against Patel.

"The Board's case had the potential to preclude any criminal actions by the DPP," Ms Clare said.

"The matter is progressing satisfactorily, but it would not be appropriate for me to comment further."

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