A Fake Prince, a Dodgy Computer and a Patel

Any of you who have read more than half a dozen pages of my website will know that I love my life here in Australia. In fact, I love Australia.

There are some things here in Australia though that are bad, which is why I have my category Australia’s Bad Things.

This category was born with the simple intention of talking about certain things that most people would consider bad about Australia; snakes, spiders, sharks, crocodiles, killer jellyfish, that sort of thing. But of course, most of these things aren’t really “bad”; they are just part of Australia’s fantastic wildlife.

“Bad” then is really in the eye of the beholder. With the exception of killer jellyfish (what’s the point?) I think all of the above mentioned are actually beautiful creatures. On the other hand I have no doubt that cockroaches, mosquitoes and cane toads, for example, are clearly bad.

Some things in my Australia’s Bad Things category can be both good and bad, depending how you look at them.

Here’s something else that is both good and bad, depending how you look at it…

Queensland Health

Queensland Health is a government department that operates and administers the public health service here in Queensland. Or rather, it used to be, it was so bad it has now been dismantled and restructured under a new name.

Queensland Health was also good because, as a public health service, if you weren’t well then you could go and see them and there would be a good chance they would fix you up.

So, what went wrong?

1 – The Prince

Since I have been living here in Australia, remember I arrived in 2007, three stories have continually dominated the news. I was reminded of this yesterday when all three stories cropped up again for various reasons.

In the first story, people from all around the world bid on a range of extraordinary items that were up for grabs following seizure from one Joel Barlow…

Joel_barlowAlso known as the ‘fake prince’, Joel Morehu-Barlow worked for Queensland Health as a middle manager in the finance department. Despite his salary of only $100,000 a year, he mixed with the Brisbane champagne set, drove a Mercedes, wore Louis Vuitton suits and, get this, paid cash for his $5.6 million riverside luxury apartment.

Barlow had embezzled $16 million from Queensland Health simply by forging a signature.

The Queensland Premier said it was “the most serious breach of public administration in the living memory of this state“. Barlow’s auntie in New Zealand said “He’s a naughty boy if he has done that.

He has, of course, been caught and the auction at the weekend raised almost $1 million to add to the $5.6 million raised by reselling his apartment, so at least the health service has got some money back.

I believe the Fake Tahitian prince is due to be sentenced later this month.

Check out a list of the things you could have bought here.

2 – The Payroll

It gets worse.

Queensland Health got themselves a new computer, quite an expensive one. In 2010 they turned it on.

ComputerIt all got quite chaotic very quickly, some people were getting paid and others not. Some were getting paid too much, some were not getting paid enough.

Today, the Queensland Health payroll enquiry begins and is expected to cost around $5 million. That’s nothing though; it has been suggested that during the chaos around 50,000 health workers were overpaid something like $90 million and this whole fiasco has cost about $1.2 billion.

You can read more about the enquiry here.

3 – The Patel

The Patel in question is one Jayant Patel…

Jayant_patelHe is in court right now, today, being retried for manslaughter. It’s a very, very long story; this one has been going on since 2005.

Patel is a surgeon accused of gross incompetence whilst working for Queensland Health. He was tried and convicted on 3 counts of manslaughter in June 2010, but these convictions were quashed in August 2012 for some technicality or other, and a retrial was ordered.

According to his Wikipedia page, “Inadequacies in Patel’s practice were identified. His surgery was described as “antiquated” and “sloppy”. Nurses claimed that they hid their patients from him when they knew that he was in the hospital. He showed poor regard for hygiene. He attracted the nickname “Dr. Death”. It is alleged he altered medical records in order to hide his inadequacies.

Patel is linked to at least 87 deaths amongst the 1,202 patients he treated between 2003 and early 2005. 30 patients died while under his care in Bundaberg.

Interesting that all three of these stories have become a focus of attention this weekend, and no wonder Queensland Health was dismantled.

That said, all the doctors, nurses, paramedics and ambulance staff who attended to me when I stupidly splashed neat chlorine into my eye did an absolutely marvellous job.

Yes, I do love Australia, but that isn’t to say bad stuff doesn’t happen here.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • john March 17, 2013, 7:36 am |

    The payroll. My partner works at another hospital in the city, people who left Queensland Health who now work along side her report that staff were being paid their payroll numbers, 5 figure sums month after month, while others got nothing, those over paid have 6 years to repay the money. Meanwhile it sits in their bank accounts earning interest.

    • BobinOz March 18, 2013, 8:40 pm |

      It’s completely mad, isn’t it? I’m sure there will be quite a few people who don’t pay the money back either. Cheers John!

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