Doctor assessed after complaints

PENNY WARDLE
Last updated 08:00 20/11/2012

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Patient complaints led to a doctor at Wairau Hospital in Blenheim having his performance assessed, according to information from the Health and Disability Commission.

Commission legal adviser Tina Liu said the Medical Council had considered complaints in March from two women against the Wairau Hospital doctor.

The Medical Council decided the doctor was required to undergo a performance assessment under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act, Ms Liu said.

That assessment was still under way, she said in a letter on Thursday to Adrien Pitcon-Mason, the Picton woman who is acting as advocate for the two patients.

Information on the Medical Council website says a performance assessment involves three council members reviewing a doctor's practice over one or two days.

If there were serious concerns, the council could suggest temporary suspension of a doctor's practising certificate. Otherwise, they could order the doctor to attend a 12-month education programme, sit an exam or limit the scope of their practice.

The outcome of a performance assessment is not publicised unless it leads to restrictions, conditions or suspension of a doctor's practice, the website says.

Ms Pitcon-Mason had asked the commission to get information on the doctor's performance assessment from the council, which it did using the Official Information Act.

She said she laid complaints with the commission in August and October last year but had heard nothing since December, when a representative wrote saying they had been referred to the Medical Council.

The Marlborough Express asked the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board yesterday whether the doctor was still performing surgery at Wairau Hospital, whether he had been suspended and whether he was the same doctor involved with a death at the hospital being investigated by police for the coroner.

Board chief executive John Peters said he could not respond because of the police investigation.

The doctor had also been listed on the website of the Churchill Trust, which operates a private hospital in Blenheim.

A spokeswoman for New Zealand Southern Cross said yesterday the organisation had suspended the doctor's contract as an affiliated provider.

No claims had been received from private patients for procedures performed by the doctor since May, she said.

A spokeswoman for the doctor said he was unable to comment while an investigation was under way.

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- The Marlborough Express

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