Industrial Commissioner backs reprimand for doctor over hospital parking

The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) has upheld a decision to reprimand a government surgical clinician over repeatedly parking their prestige motor vehicle at the entry of a busy Brisbane hospital.

The QIRC had been told Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) Anaesthetics Registrar Dr Ashwini Dhanapathy’s “silver/brown Mercedes” had been flagged on numerous occasions parking outside the hospital’s main entry, and “impeding disability and emergency services vehicles” in mid-2021.

Industrial Commissioner Samantha Pidgeon, in a recently published decision, said Queensland Health (QH) issued Dr Dhanapathy with an official reprimand in January 2022 under the state’s Public Service Act 2008.

Dr Dhanapathy subsequently appealed the decision, saying the sanction was too harsh.

Ms Pidgeon said: “(Dr Dhanapathy) says that the ‘sheer trauma and mental agony caused by such a laughably minor issue is unethical, demoralising and disappointing’ and that there were alternative ‘proactive, lenient and proportionate’ avenues available to the (QH) decision-maker.”

The QIRC was told QH took action after Dr Dhanapathy’s vehicle was “flagged numerous times” illegally parked outside the main entrance of the PAH, impeding access to a disability ramp and emergency service vehicles.


QH, in its submissions, said Dr Dhanapathy was issued with a fine on 30 June 2021 for illegally parking her vehicle on the footpath at the hospital’s entrance, and blocking wheelchair access to the hospital.

On 7 July 2021, Dr Dhanapathy was again confronted by hospital security staff when she attempted to park in same area of the hospital campus.

Ms Pidgeon, in a 21-page decision delivered on 13 September, said: “It is clear that (Dr Dhanapathy) was told not to park in the non-designated space in front of the building, blocking the footpath and the disability ramp.”

“(She) had been asked to move her car from that space on 30 June 2021.

“The space where (Dr Dhanapathy) was parked on 7 July 2021 was in a similar location and had the capacity to impede the movement of emergency vehicles. (She) had a responsibility to conduct herself in a manner that ensure (sic) ‘the safety, health and welfare’ of herself and others in the workplace, whether they were her colleagues, emergency vehicles/staff and/or patients or those visiting the campus.”

The QIRC was told the events of 7 July had been filmed via a body worn security guard camera, and recorded Dr Dhanapathy claim she had special circumstances to park illegally.


“A review of the footage indicates that (Dr Dhanapathy) did not treat her co-worker with courtesy and respect during that interaction,” Ms Pidgeon said.

“(QH) says that parking in and around the PAH is in high demand, highly regulated, and subject to a systematic waitlist to ensure fairness to all employees of the PAH.

“However (Dr Dhanapathy), despite being warned not to do so, circumvented the parking rules and obstructed other vehicles.

QH submitted it was important, and consistent with legislation, that community standards and workplace expectations required medical officers maintain the highest standard of workplace conduct, including strict adherence with policy and procedure, and the respectful and dignified treatment of others.

QH argued Dr Dhanapathy’s conduct fell short of those expectations and the substantiated allegation warranted the need to impose disciplinary action.

Ms Pidgeon agreed with the QH decision, saying: “I understand that (Dr Dhanapathy) is unhappy with the decision to impose the disciplinary reprimand in circumstances where she says that the behaviour was of a minor nature and she believes the punishment is disproportionate to the substantiated allegation.”


“However, a disciplinary reprimand is one of the most minor disciplinary actions available to the decision-maker and I find that it was reasonable for the (QH) to impose this disciplinary action.”

Read the decision.

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