24 Aug 2012

Hearing reviews deregistering of Hamilton doctor

10:15 am on 24 August 2012

A Hamilton GP struck off for professional misconduct says he regrets ignoring the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal at the time it decided his fate last year.

The tribunal is reviewing its decision on Suresh Vatsyayann, whom it struck off the medical register in May 2011 for enrolling patients without their consent, breaching patient privacy and allowed his unqualified wife to perform procedures such as smear tests.

In March this year, he appealed against the decision in the High Court.

The court dismissed most of the appeal, finding that the tribunal was justified in its decisions, which included ordering the doctor to pay costs of $256,000.

However, Justice Priestly expressed concern that Dr Vatsyayann had refused to attend the tribunal's penalty hearing and ordered that as a matter of fairness, the tribunal should reassess the penalty.

Month-long hunger strike

Dr Vatsyayann told a resumed hearing of the tribunal in Hamilton on Thursday that, in hindsight, he should have attended the penalty hearing to put his case.

He said he went on a month-long hunger strike in protest at being found guilty and was in no fit state to attend the hearing.

Dr Vatsyayann said he accepted responsibility for any administrative problems at his clinic and for any privacy breaches, although he contends that they did not happen.

He said his then wife, while not a registered nurse, is a qualified dentist and assisted him in many surgical procedures when they worked in India.

Dr Vatsyayann said if he was allowed to practise again he would do so under the supervision of a competent GP.

The tribunal reserved its decision and in the meantime ordered the interim suspension of his licence to practice.