The Vega Vega case — an overseas trained doctor’s sweet justice

By | | comments
(Image via loztooz13.blogspot.com.au)

Last week, the Supreme Court of Queensland ruled on a doctor’s matter – logical, simple and basic – that of natural justice and due process. It was the case of Vega Vega v Hoyle & Onrs 2015. Dr. Leong Ng reports.

OVERSEAS TRAINED surgeon, Dr Antonio Vega Vega’s victory was short, sweet and stinging — certainly timely with the continued dysfunctional Australian health landscape experiencing widespread criticism and with the regulator, AHPRA under the spot light with the multiple respondents. 

It was certainly a breath of fresh air from the usual mundane poor quality misleading and biased reporting beloved of the media circus.

Interestingly, it came a fortnight after the Commonwealth Council of Health Ministers mysteriously announced the postponement of the public release of the independent Snowball Report on the statutory 3-year review of AHPRA — the NRAS. This was tabled during the 3 monthly COAG Health Ministers’ Meeting in April 2015.

Questions need to be asked why the Council, which operates on an absolute consensus basis, needs to stagger the release for “work to be done".

Was Dr Kim Snowball highly critical and particularly so about events in NSW where the previous Chair was the Hon Ms Jillian Skinner, NSW Minister for Health? Were there more criticisms of protocol, process and even the failure of the law?

For example, how can a “National Scheme” not be governed by Commonwealth Law but only by State statutes and by the ability of a State Registration branch to act beyond its borders?

Returning to the Vega Vega case, the bread and butter of human rights – that of natural justice and due process – were widely expounded in the context of Administrative Law by Supreme Court Judge, Her Honour Anne Lyons and Counsel for the Applicant, Stephen Keim, SC. This is unprecedented and must pave the way for the review of many cases of injustice within the Australian Health management system — even the frequently called for Royal Commission.

In my view, the historic Mabo case rings loud as to the human rights breaches inflicted on victims — the false imprisonment of their personal intellectual properties and right to a livelihood being analogous to an expanded flawed application of the doctrine of terra nullis.

The matters include processes used by the public health services and the de facto delegates of the regulator. Major players include frequent offenders like NSW Health and Queensland Health and some of the older Australasian ‘Royal’ Colleges. Others such as Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services may come under the spot light as would matters involving bullying, sexual harassment, malfeasance and other egregious irregularities.

Queensland GP Dr Peter Bevan describes his experience as the subject of a false and vexatious complaint about sexual misconduct.

Coupled with austerity reforms in the budget and Medicare, these are certain matters of extreme public interest.

The interest again reminds us of frequent media frenzy in attacking overseas trained doctors after the Patel debacle, some interesting issues of which are discussed in this forum, which itself remains insoluble given the position of the Government.

In the background are fundamental questions about statutory mandatory reporting, loosely accepted standards of proof, sham peer reviews and their long term harmful nature on the professionalism of any practicing doctor — the latest issues being the hushed deaths of four junior doctors in Victoria. 

Continuing drastic reform must take place because of these. The author has persistently critiqued the establishment in IA publications till now.1,2,3, This piece highlights and summarizes the unaddressed immediate concerns. A national concerted effort is needed.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

Monthly Donation


Single Donation


Looking for stories not covered by mainstream media? Subscribe to IA for just $5.


Recent articles by Dr Leong Ng
Our health industry needs a Commonwealth Integrity Commission

There have been calls for a Royal Commission into the health industry since a lack ...  
The OHO Act 2013 revisited – is it really protecting the public?

Drs Leong Ng and Chandrika Barman recently painted in IA, a grim picture of health ...  
HPARA, Healthcare and AHPRA — The good, the bad and the ugly

Dr Leong Ng and Dr Chandrika Barman trace the “care” in Australia's healthcare ...  
Join the conversation
comments powered by Disqus