Published: Fri, March 10, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Fake Indian 'doctor' on the run in Australia

Fake Indian 'doctor' on the run in Australia

The real doctor whose identity was allegedly stolen by a man who then worked in the NSW health system for more than a decade is reportedly "distressed and shocked" by the case.

"There's no doubt there's a huge number of questions around his registration criteria, his qualifications, all those issues which I know now many doctors, whether they're from overseas or local, go through so many processes now to demonstrate their qualification", she said.

Shyam Acharya allegedly stole a doctor's name and qualifications in India and used the credentials to work in the country.

NSW Shadow Health Minster, Mr Walt Secord, has demanded that the State Government reveal the extent of the activity of Mr Acharya during his 11 years at Gosford, Wyong, Manly and Hornsby hospitals, and described the situation as a "Shoddy Australian version of Leonardo DiCaprio's "Catch Me If You Can".

"There were at least five or six other doctors that were convinced that he was pretty shabby, that his medicine was unsavoury and that patients that he tried to hand over were not worked up very well", he said.

"Novotech immediately took steps to investigate and contacted the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the NSW Police (amongst others).Those organizations conducted their own investigations into this issue with which Novotech fully cooperated", read the company's statement.

The doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, told the ABC he spent several months working with the alleged fraudster in the hospital's emergency department.

'It is incredible that this man could practice for 11 years and come into contact with hundreds of patients and go unnoticed, ' he told ABC news.

He also became an Australian citizen.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has backed a call by his NSW counterpart, Brad Hazzard, for legislative change to widen the potential penalties to include jail time.

"The Health Minister, Mr Brad Hazzard, and his Department have to explain; 'What does a fake doctor have to do in NSW to get caught?"

"I am also offering to meet with the one patient and his family where concerns were raised about the adequacy of his treatment", Mr Hazzard said. He got himself registered with the medical board of New South Wales (NSW) after allegedly stealing documents from Chitale while living in India.

If he is convicted, he faces a fine of up to $30,000.

NSW Health deputy secretary Karen Crawshaw said he was classified as a junior doctor, meaning he was supervised by other practitioners.

"On being contacted by AHPRA, NSW Health began an investigation of Mr Acharya's former employment in NSW Health, which ended in May 2014".

Although never the sole target of a complaint, Mr Acharya was part of a clinical team investigated over the treatment of one patient.

Mr Acharya was never the individual subject of a complaint.

"NSW Health has notified solicitors acting for the patient", Ms Crawshaw said in a media statement.

In 2013, Acharya worked for global pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, before moving to medical research group Novatech in 2016.

The Central Coast Area Health Service said he was based in Gosford and Wyong Hospitals from 2003 to 2006.

"AstraZeneca fully cooperated with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency since they initially made contact in October a year ago".

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