Report Highlights Systemic Failures in Management of Complaints About Doctor

Hemodialysis machines with tubing and installations.
A NSW gynaecologist was allowed to practice for more than two decades despite ongoing complaints against him. The case has now made national headlines following the release of an independent report into the management of complaints by local health districts, and that NSW police have now also been asked to investigate.

Dr Emil Gayed commenced working in Australia after graduating as a fellow from the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1993. Over the following two decades 29 complaints were made to the Healthcare Complaints Commission resulting in 11 prosecutions by medical authorities. Complaints include unnecessary surgery conducted on women and that Dr Gayed did not obtain informed consent.

Initially Dr Gayed worked as a locum or visiting medical officer in rural and regional NSW. Between 1996 to 1999 Dr Gayed worked at Cooma Hospital, he resigned after 15 adverse events were reported. In 2001 he was found guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct. In 2002 Dr Gayed was employed by Mona Vale Hospital, a major hospital on Sydney’s northern beaches. He was suspended in 2003 and then reinstated after a month’s investigation. He resigned in 2007 after another suspension and then began working in Manning Rural Referral Hospital in the regional town of Taree. It wasn’t until 2015, following another complaint to the Healthcare Complaints Commission that a wider investigation was undertaken. Dr Gayed’s medical board registration was finally suspended in 2017 and on 6 June 2018 a NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal found Dr Gayed guilty of professional misconduct.

The NSW Health Minister requested a report following a tribunal hearing to review the management of complaints made against Dr Gayed. The report found that from 1999 to 2016 there was a concern raised about Dr Gayed’s practice almost every year. Complaints and concerns were raised by nursing staff, anaesthetists, general practitioners and other medical practitioners. Patients of Dr Gayed have expressed concerns that he was allowed to move between hospitals in five different health districts and continue working despite allegations and findings against him.

The NSW Department of Health has acknowledged that there were systemic issues that allowed Dr Gayed to continue working despite concerns about his practice. NSW Health has accepted in full the three recommendations made in the report which are:

  • That governance processes are reviewed to ensure incident reports are monitored at the district level.
  • That public hospitals have access to patient records of visiting medical officers who provide care for their private patients using public hospitals and ensure that their care is appropriate.
  • That where local health districts rely on a sole medical practitioner or a small specialist team that these services are subject to external oversight, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas.

It has been reported that the NSW Medical Board is also being reviewed for its management of historical complaints against Dr Gayed, and that a legal firm representing a number of Dr Gayed’s former patients is considering a class action.