AHPRA expect you to do a lot.
If you don’t do what the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority (AHPRA) wants in 52 minutes, they publish a media statement that paints you in disparaging terms. It’s straight out intimidation.
That’s what happened to Gary last Wednesday afternoon.
AHPRA are engaging in the very activity of intimidation, bullying and harassment whilst they have been under scrutiny at a recent Senate Inquiry into bullying, harassment and the medical complaints process.
It is hard to imagine, but AHPRA managed that not once, but twice to Gary after he presented to the Senate Inquiry on bullying and harassment and the failings of the investigation process. AHPRA do not seem to have taken his criticism well.
Gary was speaking under parliamentary privilege on November 1 and did not beat around the bush.
Within 3 hours of presenting his evidence to the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority (AHPRA) thought it was timely to present a final determination ‘silencing’ him on speaking about nutrition. This is after nearly 2 ½ years of investigation. For some, that coincidence might be construed as harassment. Gary certainly did.
Gary and I were just having a cuppa after that presentation when the email ‘arrived’ after 832 days of investigation. It was after an emotional session hearing the stories of a few doctors representing many health professionals that have been bullied, harassed and then dragged through prolonged AHPRA closed door process.
The ‘coincidental’ timing of the email was intimidating for us both. You do feel vulnerable up against AHPRA, and I am not even Gary.
Where does the 52 minutes come in? Pay close attention to the timing.
Gary’s AHPRA investigations have been closed and AHPRA were not supposed to say anything public. That’s the advice we have had on the National Law.
Under advice, we decided to let the public know ‘publicly’ – our side of the story. We live in a small community in Tasmania and many people know of the trail of events so, for us, it was important to make the announcement and clarify rumour.
The public support for Gary’s predicament has been overwhelming for us but also for AHPRA. Many, many people have ‘explained’ to AHPRA what they have thought of the decision to not allow Gary to continue to advise his patients and public on nutrition in general terms.
The AHPRA decision was based on the statement that a basic medical degree does not give a doctor the qualifications to give that advice. Many health professionals, and not just doctors, have expressed concern to us, the AMA, medical insurers, universities and the press. They have every reason to be concerned by this precedent.
That inundation of commentary to AHPRA prompted a unique Media Statement released to the public on the afternoon of Wednesday November 16, 2016 – a working time for most people and certainly for Gary.
Back to the 52 minutes.
Email correspondence was sent to Gary at 2.41 pm from senior management of the Hobart Office of AHPRA. The letter was not formally considered by Gary until that evening as he was engaged in clinical duties that afternoon. From the letter:
“Your permission is required before AHPRA and the Board can step outside of the usual confidentiality obligations imposed on them by the National Law.
Please consider this request and if you are agreeable, please sign the attached consent.
The Media Release by AHPRA was created at 3.33 pm from the Melbourne National Office of AHPRA.
“Unless Dr Fettke consents to the release of the information that informed the Board’s decision to issue a caution, the Board is not able to comment further and support informed community debate about these important issues.”
The media statement inferred in two sections that Gary was ‘withholding’ a signed document allowing AHPRA to release information.
Consider what Gary had to do in that 52 minute time frame. Gary ONLY had to plan for:
Ready, set, GO!
*Time to know that the email from AHPRA was sent to him.
*Time to read the email.
*Time to comprehend the implications of allowing AHPRA to release whatever they want to the public after they have been refusing Gary access to all the evidence for 2 ½ years, as well as refusing to release the material under Freedom of Information despite repeated requests.
*Time to seek independent legal advice.
*Time to seek medical indemnity advice.
*Time to write a response to AHPRA.
*Time to return that response to AHPRA in the Hobart office.
*Time to allow time for the Hobart AHPRA office to assess a reply, get legal review, etc.
*Time to allow the Hobart office to forward and then let them contact the National office of AHPRA of the reply.
*Time for the National Office in Melbourne to write that media release.
*Time for the National office very senior staff to have been involved in the legalities of a media statement.
*Time to type the media statement up.
*Time to turn it into PDF.
*Stop the clock!
3.33 pm 52 minutes – whilst Gary is at work.
I know Gary can be efficient with his time and he is my super hero but he’s not that quick!
What happened after that?
The National AHPRA office in Melbourne then posted it on their web site, on social media and then sent it unsolicited to journalists encouraging them to do an article,
This is how I found out. I was called by a local journalist at 5.37pm asking for my comment on the media release. I admit I don’t watch the AHPRA website closely waiting for a media release, so how could I possibly know?
There have been 23 media releases this year by AHPRA. Gary’s is the only one that names a practicing health practitioner. Seven other releases reveal names of non-practicing individuals. The rest are administrative. Gary has been singled out in a most inappropriate manner.
There are obviously complicit actions between senior staff of AHPRA in Hobart and the National office in Melbourne to make this ‘unusual’ media release.
Gary has PROOF that material submitted to AHPRA over time has been fabricated and embellished. He has presented that to AHPRA on several occasions but they have ignored that. Those stories are for another day.
Gary is certainly not going to sign off for AHPRA to manipulate those ‘stories’ any more they have been already.
The time frame of 52 minutes for response reveals the deep, systemic, behavioural issues within AHPRA.
What’s the likelihood of signing a document of release when you are being framed?
That’s been good advice.