Kevin Farmer

'Fake' doctor treated Aussie patients for 11 years

A FRAUDULENT doctor who had no medical qualifications faked his way into Australia on a stolen identity and treated patients in the state's hospitals and emergency departments for more than 10 years.

Shyam Acharya is now on the run and is believed to have fled overseas after faking his citizenship, forging a passport and doctoring medical qualifications that he stole from a doctor in India.

 

It's believed the fake doctor assumed the identity of "Sarang Chitale" to work in the health system from 2003 to 2014 at Manly, Hornsby, Wyong and Gosford Hospitals. He obtained registration with the Medical Board of NSW in 2003 using stolen medical qualifications and other fraudulent documents.

NSW Health admitted his fraud had gone unchecked for 11 years late yesterday.

Authorities have combed his records and detected at his involvement in at least one bungle where a team botched a procedure ­involving a broken limb.

After leaving his ­employment with NSW health in May 2014 it is ­believed the junior doctor continued his fraud by getting work with a private company. However, this work did not deal with patients.

It is understood Acharya was incredibly proficient at faking his qualifications and was even held in high regard by the peers he duped.

The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority investigated Acharya and he has been charged with Commonwealth offences.

NSW Health said it was not aware of AHPRA's investigation until November 2016 and only then did they start looking into his work history.

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said it was "quite disturbing that a foreign national could get through our border protection with a false passport and ID based on an Indian citizen who had trained as a doctor".

He pledged to raise the matter with interstate counterparts to "see whether the checks and balances are in place at a national level so that this can't occur again".

"I have also directed the Ministry of Health to look at every aspect of registration to make sure that NSW Health has done whatever it can to look beyond fake passports with particular reference to going back to primary documents from country of origin," he said.

He said he would meet with one patient whose family was concerned about "the adequacy of his treatment".

AHPRA has charged Acharya with breach of section 116 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. The offence carries a fine of up to $30,000 if he is convicted.

His case was before court on Monday. The matters ­before court do not deal with how he was able to enter and leave Australia or how he obtained citizenship in the name of the other doctor.

"His current whereabouts are unknown," NSW Health Deputy Secretary Karen Crawshaw said.

"The Medical Council of NSW and the Health Care Complaints Commission have advised they have ­received no complaints about Mr Acharya," she said.

Ms Crawshaw said the department had strengthened recruitment checks in the years since Acharya slipped into the NSW Health system on fake documents in 2003.

NSW Shadow Health Minster Walt Secord ­demanded the Government reveal the extent of the fraudulent doctor's work and said the case showed a "widespread systematic failure".

"If this matter wasn't so shocking, the details would read like a shoddy Down Under version of Leonardo DiCaprio's 'Catch Me If You Can'," he said.

News Corp Australia

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