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Hunger strike against medical negligence and corruption

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Helen Stanley-Clarke went into hospital in 2008 for a hernia repair operation, but she ended up with a facelift she didn't want or ask for — which then went terribly wrong. The medical authorities and successive Governments have refused to act to resolve her appalling mistreatment, so now she is on Day 8 of a hunger strike.

MY NAME IS Helen Stanley-Clarke and I live in Central Qld, Australia. Today is Day 8 of my hunger strike protesting against surgical negligence I suffered and for which the relevant authorities have shown themselves to be unwilling to act upon.

[Read Helen Stanley-Clarke's earlier story for the full background]

*****

At 7am on 30 August 2008, I was in a private hospital located in Redcliffe, Queensland, eagerly waiting for my hernia repair and abdominal tightening surgery to commence in one hour.

Dr X was performing the surgery.

All costs related to the surgery were pre-paid to Dr X's Agent, The International Surgery Group, 3 to 4 weeks prior. He had come highly recommended for this abdominal surgery by his Agent and advertised experience in excess of 20 years.

The surgeon had been provided with photos of my abdomen by the manager Ms Z and, despite my offer of further photos should they be required, they were not requested.

Pre-surgery consultation was arranged for the evening prior to surgery, 29 Aug 2008.

In the pre-surgery consultation, Dr X administered an examination in which he explained the procedure. I signed the consent form; nursing staff were present. There was no mention of any possible complications or obstacles which would prevent surgery.

*****

One hour and 15 minutes later, I was in the operating theatre and Dr X was preparing to perform a full facelift with U/L blepharoplasty on me, which he had offered a distressed and crying patient for the same price she had pre-paid for the abdominal surgery — but only if the surgery could go ahead as planned.

Dr X had just advised he could not perform the original abdominal surgery because it could be life-threatening. Something he failed to mention the previous evening.

The theatre booking record, which I could only obtain by eventually contacting Fair Trading, was for four hours (8am to 12pm) and, in 4 hours, it was all over.

I awoke the next morning to find he had not performed a full facelift on me, and when I asked why at his brief visit — he said I didn't need one.

*****

Questions immediately arise about the conduct of the surgeon.

If I didn't require a full facelift, why did he not know that prior to commencing surgery? And, moreover, why did he offer a patient an expensive elective procedure she did not request nor even need?

*****

Major problems started occurring virtually straight away.

Two days later, his agent, Ms Z, advised me the surgeon had performed a procedure called an S-Lift plus on me, instead of the full face-lift he had found out during surgery I did not need.

Unfortunately, however, he did, in fact, perform the U/L blephoraplasty, with two eyes taking approximately 20 minutes — undoubtedly explaining the problems in that area.  The S-lift plus, which I had never heard of, but have since researched, is considerably less expensive than a full face-lift and takes approximately half the time to perform.

In April 2009, I made a complaint to the HQCC (Health and Quality Complaints Commission) regarding Dr X's ethics and performance. The decision they made was that Dr X's performance had been below standard and conciliation was suggested to settle the dispute.

Conciliation failed; it requires the co-operation of both parties.

I then made a complaint to AHPRA regarding the ethics and performance of this surgeon. He provided an inaccurate submission to the authorities.

That was the beginning, there has been no end — yet. 

*****

On 10 December 2012, Independent Australia published an article on my story, it details the various avenues I had explored for answers at that time.

Last month, on 26 February 2014, I forwarded the following email to Ms Michelle Landry MP, LNP member for Capricornia, with copies to Mr Lawrence Springborg MP Qld Health Minister and Dr X, Surgeon (read receipts confirm delivery):

Dear Ms Landry MP 

On November 2013 via tracked Express Post I forwarded a Public Interest Disclosure regarding AHPRA, The Medical Board of Aust and Dr X, to Mr Lawrence Springborg MP and yourself – as member for Capricornia.  Tracking details confirm both of these items were delivered by Australia Post. 

No response has been received by (**should be 'from') either parties and upon bringing this fact to Mr Springborg's attention weeks ago I was advised a response was being drafted.  Still not received. 

This simply isn't good enough Ms Landry;  the pain and grief caused to me by this rogue surgeon and his subsequent lies to the authorities has become too much for me to bear. 

I would like to advise that should I not receive a satisfactory explanation as to why Dr X's lies about a patient were accepted by the authorities, despite AHPRA being in possession of evidence proving his account untruthful by 1 March 2014, I will be starting a personal hunger strike and alerting any media willing to bring this miscarriage of justice to the public attention. 

I have an archive box full of official paperwork but not one of those documents explains why Dr X's lies were accepted without question or why this particular surgeon was allowed to act in such a destructive manner toward his patient.  I want answers, not the run-around I've been receiving for 4 years now.  I have much to say and the evidence to back it up, these are not idle words.

 Yours faithfully 

Ms H L Stanley-Clarke

cc: Mr Springborg MP

cc: Dr xxxxxx xxxxx

The government has not responded.

The personal motivation for a hunger strike

Today is Day 8 of my hunger strike. Why am I doing it?

Every person on this planet has basic birth-rights. We all deserve respect and we all deserve justice.  If we allow these basic rights to be taken from us, we re-enforce a powerlessness within ourselves which is not the true nature of a human being.  We are all powerful and we all matter — not only the so called 'elite' within our society.

I have alleged for many years the decision of the now disgraced Medical Board of Australia on my ethics and performance complaint against Dr X was both, biased and partial in favour of Dr X, and based on a fraudulent submission by this surgeon.

I have been given the 'royal run-around' but not one single person from the case manager within AHPRA to the prime minister or Governor-General has been able to, or would, address the anomalies within the AHPRA case files in my case.

I find this disturbing. The government is elected by the people for the people — that's all the people.

Overall, my encounter with Dr X and the various Government Departments has been a violation of my human rights. There is no-one left to write to. I have an archive box full of official paperwork, but the anomalies have been continually ignored and no questions have actually been answered.

The aims and objectives of the hunger strike

1) A satisfactory explanation for why Dr X's untruthful submission was accepted despite clear evidence showing it to be profoundly misleading.

2) A satisfactory explanation for why the Medical Board of Australia took legal action against me to prevent an application for a review of the Board's decision progressing with QCAT (Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal).

3) A satisfactory explanation for why QCAT refused to respond to any communications regarding my application for a 12 month extension of time to pursue Dr X personally if warranted — for the entire 12 months.

4) A (proven) satisfactory explanation for the manner in which Dr X obtained the four   exhibits he presented to the Supreme Court.

5) A satisfactory explanation for why Legal Services Commission refused to investigate my allegations of possible collusion and/or corruption involving Solicitor Mr Y.

6) An unbiased and impartial decision on the complaint I made to AHPRA regarding Dr X, taking all of the evidence and information supplied to AHPRA by myself and HQCC into consideration.

7) Should the fair and impartial decision find Dr X's actions were illegal and/or unethical as alleged, the statute of limitations should be waived due to the fraudulent nature of the original decision and Dr X held accountable for his actions.

Basically, I simply would like the government to do the job they are paid to do, in the manner they are required by the law to do so.

I am keeping a hunger strike diary on the Facebook page below for anyone interested: Heven Leigh Stanley-Clarke.

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