Court says inaction cost lives

FORMER patients of disgraced surgeon Jayant Patel have welcomed the release of documents which show lives could have been saved if complaints about the former Bundaberg Hospital surgeon had been taken seriously.

The Health Tribunal documents order Patel's former boss, Darren Keating, be banned from holding the position of Director of Medical Services or any similar position in any public or private hospital.

The order also stipulates Dr Keating pay $20,000 in court costs to the Medical Board of Queensland.

Patel Action and Support Group member Doris Hillier said she was ecstatic when she heard the news.

“This is what we wanted. We wanted justice against those who had let Patel continue to do surgery,” she said.

“He stuffed up so many lives up here because he didn't do anything about the complaints.”

Ms Hillier said the release of documents would not stop their cause.

“It's going to be a big fight,” she said.

“If we don't go for it, something like this could happen again.”

The group is seeking better compensation deals for former patients, as well as medical treatment for those who still have complications following Patel's surgery.

The court documents state that Dr Keating breached his duties when he failed to take “significant appropriate action to investigate” a number of formal complaints which had been made about Patel.

Member for Burnett Rob Messenger said the documents would help work out what went wrong at Bundaberg Hospital.

“The state government, through the medical board, went soft on Keating. He led a charmed existence, living a very cosy life while people in Bundaberg are still living the horror and have lost loved ones, and many who were maimed and still hold grave concerns for their futures,” Mr Messenger said.

“Victims and families affected by Dr Patel's gross negligence are still suffering physically, mentally and financially.

“At all material times, Dr Keating was the Director of Medical Services at the Bundaberg Hospital. The Commission made an extraordinary number of adverse findings against Dr Keating.”

Mr Messenger said patients he had spoken to yesterday were excited about the release of the documents.

Patel, 60, was sentenced on July 1 to seven years' jail for the manslaughter of three patients and causing grievous bodily harm to a fourth.

Patel and the state government have both lodged appeals against the sentence.

Patel has also appealed the conviction.

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