NSW Health seeks more info on ‘fake doctor’

2 minute read

The NSW Health wants to hear from more people who may have been treated by "fake doctor" Shyam Acharya

The NSW government is asking patients treated by fake doctor Shyam Acharya, who practised as Dr Sarang Chitale, to come forward and help with its inquiry into the impostor’s decade-long ruse.

Acharya is believed to have stolen the identity of UK-based rheumatologist Dr Chitale to cheat his way into jobs at public hospitals in NSW between 2003 and 2014.

The independent inquiry will examine the circumstances surrounding Acharya’s registration, employment and management. It will also review the clinical records of individual patient cases where Acharya provided services.

A phone line has been set up to take calls from members of the public who may have concerns about treatment that they, or someone they have cared for, may have received from Acharya.

So far, 41 people who believe they were treated by Acharya have contacted NSW Health with information.

Written submissions are also invited in relation to any matter related to the inquiry’s terms of  reference. Submissions will be made publicly available on the website, unless they contain information that is confidential or affects the privacy of an individual.

Acharya worked at hospitals in Manly, Wyong, Hornsby and Gosford, as well as Royal North Shore Hospital and Mona Vale Hospital.

Former Health Care Complaints Commissioner Kieran Pehm will head the probe, along with Dr Robert Herkes, the Clinical Director of the Australian Commission of Quality and Safety in Health Care.

They will report their findings to the secretary of the NSW Ministry of Health towards the end of June.

Acharya was reported to the police and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency after his then employer, a medical research company, questioned his credentials in 2016.

He was charged under section 116 of the Health Practitioner National Regulation Law (NSW) for pretending to be a registered medical professional, an offence which carries up to a $30,000 fine.

Acharya disappeared before he was due to face court and is now the subject of a police search.

Dr Chitale, who is currently working near Manchester in the UK, has declined to comment on the case. But his family has described the identity theft as “quite distressing and shocking”.

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