A former Mackay obstetrician is allowed to return to practice in Queensland after a decision to place strict restrictions on him was set aside yesterday.
George du Toit had been Clinical Director of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Mackay Base Hospital (MBH) for a year when he was suspended by the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) in October 2021 over concerns he posed a risk to patients.
Dr du Toit applied to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to overturn the subsequent restrictions placed on him by the OHO in June last year, and was successful yesterday after the tribunal found no evidence to support the OHO decision.
QCAT had considered further evidence including reports from experts “Dr Francis”, whose initial review of cases led to the restrictions, and “Dr Garland”, who provided evidence of Dr du Toit’s competence.
In her 18-page decision, Member Dick said QCAT had considered five days of oral evidence from the two experts and Dr du Toit, and more than 12,000 pages of evidence.
She said each party had been critical of the expert called by the other party, and the tribunal had decided to scrutinise all of the individual cases litigated.
“Having said that, the tribunal is concerned that Dr Francis on more than one occasion attributed behaviour to the applicant where he was not the surgeon involved,” she said.
“The applicant says that the tribunal should note that the respondent (OHO) elected not to deal with seven of the 15 cases in which Dr Francis had been critical of the applicant’s performance, and that the themes “frequent and recurrent urinary tract injuries” and “troubling and disproportionate number of emergency hysterectomies, post-operative haemorrhaging, and urinary tract injuries” cannot now be maintained.”
QCAT found no evidence in any of the cases that Dr du Toit posed a serious risk to patients.
“Numerous colleagues have sworn affidavits attesting to the applicant’s competency in his clinical practice and performance of surgery. These deponents are from both Western Australia and MBH,” Member Dick said.
“Two of the Western Australian doctors who worked with the applicant observed him to be ‘an extremely competent surgeon’ and his ‘surgical and clinical skills to be excellent’. Those comments were echoed in statements from his colleagues at Mackay Base Hospital.
“Following his resignation from Mackay Base Hospital, the applicant obtained employment with Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth and two of his colleagues from there give him glowing references.
“The evidence material before the tribunal, on careful scrutiny, does not lead the tribunal to the view that because of his conduct or performance, the applicant poses a serious risk to persons.”
QCAT set aside the OHO’s decision of 27 June 2022 and ordered that Dr du Toit be allowed to return to clinical practice in Queensland.