AS A surgeon and medical superintendent of Rockhampton Hospital, I have read the recent articles in The Morning Bulletin and watched the news broadcasts on the television channels regarding Dr Vega Vega with great interest.
Other than to exchange an occasional nod with Dr Vega Vega in the corridor of the Mater Hospital theatre, I have no knowledge of any of the doctors involved or of the chairman of the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Services Board.
Mr Charles Ware's public statement that Dr Vega Vega will never again set foot in Rockhampton Hospital followed by his announcement that the executive director of clinical services and the director of surgery had been "fired" is beyond belief.
I find it appalling that the chairman of the board has appointed himself judge and jury in this and other matters which evolve from it and which will undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on the future careers of these two senior medical officers.
As far as I know, to date none of these officers has been found guilty of any offence in a court of law.
What has happened to the presumption of innocence until found guilty?
Mr Ware's affirmation that the two senior Medical Officers were fired because this matter occurred 'during their watch' shows a lack of appreciation on his part of the workings of a surgical unit and the several responsibilities of its individual officers.
The action of the board chairman in firing these two officers has, in my opinion, immensely harmed their careers and, irrespective of the outcome of any further investigations and subsequent hearings, some of damage will be irreparable.
In applications for medical positions worldwide one has to answer the question "Have you ever been dismissed from a clinical position?
If one answers "yes" there is little chance of being appointed.
A "No" answer could constitute a criminal offence.
It is therefore a matter of urgency that the decision to dismiss these two doctors be rescinded without delay.
Should investigations subsequently suggest that either or both of these officers have been negligent in their duties to a degree which justifies such action, the correct procedure would be suspension on full pay pending an open hearing at which each would have the right of reply and access to legal representation.
Hopefully such actions, taken urgently, might help to stem any exodus of medical (and possibly nursing) staff from the hospital and deterioration of interest in future vacancies.
It may also reduce the chances of action being taken against the hospital for unfair dismissal.
Dr John Provan
Charles Ware, Central Queensland Hospital and Health Board chair (pictured below), offered a response to Dr Provan's letter.
I thank Dr Provan for his views and accept his criticism, but the action we have taken is decisive and protective with the single aim of improving patient safety, and for that I do not apologise.
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