Launceston General Hospital doctors investigated for running unauthorised course

Launceston General Hospital.

Launceston General Hospital.

DOCTORS at the Launceston General Hospital were investigated after it was revealed junior staff were paying them for unauthorised training.

The accusations, detailed in the Tasmanian Integrity Commission’s annual report, have been confirmed by the Health Department.

The watchdog said in September last year it audited a Tasmanian Health Organisation investigation in response to allegations.

“Information suggested that two doctors ran a training course in July 2014 without authority from the THO and that the course fees, paid by ­attending junior doctors and nursing staff from the intensive care unit were deposited into a private bank account held by the two doctors,” the report said.

“The matter had come to the attention of the THO when a junior doctor attempted to obtain reimbursement for the course fees.”

A department spokesman said an investigation found the “in-house” course was conducted without the required admin­istrative approvals.

“Although the course content was seen to be beneficial to the participants with obvious flow-on benefits to patient care,” he said.

“To that end, the course has continued, albeit with proper approvals in place.”

The Integrity Commission said the investigation found in addition to receiving payment, it was alleged the two doctors received wages for regular ­duties — work not being under­taken while the training was being delivered.

“In the course of the THO investigation, information emerged that the doctors had previously delivered the same training course in 2013, and had been provided with funds from the THO to cover associated expenses of the course without appropriate approvals.

“Also included in the 2013 course were undeclared sponsorship payments from two pharmaceutical companies.”

The commission said it warned the THO of the risks this type of conduct posed in relation to the appropriate expenditure of public money.

The commission also raised concerns about the risk that the absence of ICU staff posed to the medical service.

But the department spokesman dismissed those claims.

“At no time was patient care compromised,” he said.