Doctor in chemotherapy under-dosing scandal worked in Newcastle hospital

The doctor at the centre of the chemotherapy dosing scandal also worked at a hospital in Newcastle, it has been revealed, but the New South Wales Government cannot say how many people he treated there.

Key points:

  • Doctor in chemotherapy under-dosing scandal worked in Newcastle Hospital
  • Health Minister did not know until asked by a journalist
  • There were no dosage protocols in place

Doctor John Grygiel has been found to have given off-protocol doses of chemotherapy to more than a hundred patients at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, as well as dozens more in the state’s central west.

It has now emerged that Dr Grygiel also worked at Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital in the 1980s.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner has conceded she only found out the doctor had been employed there when a journalist raised the issue with her yesterday.

“I told her I would look into it immediately,” Ms Skinner said.

“I did and discovered that he’d apparently worked at the hospital from 1986 to 1988.”

But the Minister said the matter had come to the attention of the State’s Chief Cancer Officer, Professor David Currow, when he was investigating Dr Grygiel’s work in the state’s central west.

“But because it was way outside the terms of reference to look at the flat dosing then, it was not part of that inquiry.”

Chemotherapy protocols had not been introduced yet: Minister

The Minister defended not asking for a further investigation and said Dr Grygiel’s work at Calvary Mater was before chemotherapy dosage protocols were introduced in 2006.

Jillian Skinner speaking to the media.

“Because there was no protocol about the amount of chemotherapy to be used … you couldn’t determine what was off-protocol or not.

“It was a matter of the individual doctor’s judgement.”

Labor’s Health spokesman Walt Secord said the revelation was further proof of the need for a Special Commission of Inquiry into the chemotherapy dosage scandal.

“We have no idea how many patients there were in Newcastle,” Mr Secord said.

“It is stunning and irresponsible that the Minister didn’t know he had worked at Newcastle until she was contacted by the media.

“At the moment we have a cloak of secrecy and this is about protecting the integrity of the health and hospital system and reassuring patients.”

Ms Skinner again rejected Labor’s call and said the work Professor Currow had done was “effectively a Special Commission of Inquiry”.

“There’s an Upper House Inquiry, they could make inquiries about this,” she said.

“If people are concerned there’s still that opportunity to provide that information to the Healthcare Complaints Commission.”

The ABC has contacted the Calvary Mater Hospital for comment.

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