An independent review has been launched into how a man allegedly conned NSW’s health system by posing as an Indian doctor to work in four hospitals over 11 years.
The review will look into how Shyam Acharya gained medical registration, was recruited and gained employment allegedly using fake documents in the name of Dr Sarang Chitale, NSW Health announced on Monday.
It will be led by former Health Care Complaints Commissioner Keiran Pehm and Dr Robert Herkes, who’s the clinical director of the Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Health Care.
Acharya is said to have posed as Dr Chitale by entering Australia on a fake passport in 2003 and gaining registration with the Medical Board of NSW.
He worked in hospitals at Manly, Hornsby, Gosford and Wyong until 2014 while the real doctor practised as a specialist in the UK.
Acharya, whose whereabouts are unknown, is facing a $30,000 penalty and court proceedings following charges by the Australia Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has also referred the matter to police, arguing that the potential penalty for 11 years of deception is woefully inadequate.
However, it’s understood NSW Police pursued the matter when it was first raised by the company which outed Acharya last year.
Novotech, which employed Acharya from June 2015 to September 2016, was asked whether it wanted to pursue criminal charges after it blew the whistle on its former medical director to the regulator and police.
But the medical research firm decided not to as it was unaware of Acharya’s real name, location or assets.
Police suspended their inquiries with AHPRA investigating.
“On Friday night Health Minister Brad Hazzard referred the matter to the NSW police commissioner, who has now asked the State Crime Command to look into the matter,” NSW Police said in a statement on Monday.
In the week since Acharya’s case became public, 31 people have called a hotline set up for those worried about having been possibly treated by Acharya posing as Dr Chitale.
“The care that he provided was seen to be clinically appropriate,” a NSW Health spokeswoman told AAP.