Dr Walters is still awaiting reinstatement of his medical credentials after the court's ruling.(Supplied: North West Hospital Cardiology)ShareFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsAppPrint contentPrint with images and other mediaPrint text onlyPrintCancelThe Palaszczuk Government is standing by bosses of Queensland's largest hospital service who unlawfully misused their power to target an outspoken heart doctor.Key points:The Supreme Court said Metro North unlawfully stripped Dr Walters of his medical credentialsDocuments seen by the ABC show the Government was aware of staff support for Dr WaltersHealth Minister Steven Miles said Metro North "do a very good job"More than 170 Prince Charles Hospital (PCH) staff took the extraordinary step of writing to the Premier in 2018 to warn that the removal of cardiologist Darren Walters from clinical duties had "compromised" patient safety and increased waiting lists for urgent procedures.The Government declined to intervene.But a Supreme Court justice recently ruled the decisions of Metro North Hospital and Health Service executives were "an exercise of a power so unreasonable that no reasonable person could so exercise it".It is the latest controversy surrounding Metro North, after allegations it corruptly funded a lawsuit against a mental health patient, and corruption charges against Metro North's founding chief executive.Metro North caters for almost 1 million patients on Brisbane's northside and runs six hospitals, including the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.Insiders, including its former senior commercial lawyer and a former state assistant health minister, have accused the hospital service of using legal action in a bid to silence whistleblowers and critics. Staff at Prince Charles Hospital, at Chermside on Brisbane's northside, warned the Government that care was being compromised without Dr Walters.(Facebook: The Prince Charles Hospital)However, Health Minister Steven Miles said he retained full confidence in executives at Metro North, despite the court ruling against them in a costly taxpayer-funded legal battle with Dr Walters."This matter has been through its appropriate processes and I'm sure Metro North will now comply with the outcome of that court case," Mr Miles said.A judge last year ordered the parties back into mediation, urging them to settle out of court so Metro North could "devote resources to the health care of Queenslanders and reducing hospital waiting lists, rather than to litigation" and Dr Walters could return to his "important clinical work".Dr Walters, who led the PCH cardiology unit, was suspended in April 2018 over corruption allegations surrounding the running of an Indigenous health program.But the Supreme Court last year found the corruption allegations were false and overturned that suspension.However, Metro North had also suspended Dr Walters over allegations of bullying by three co-workers in September 2018.Metro North then suspended Dr Walters again in August 2019 for an alleged reprisal against those colleagues, by making "denigrating comments" about them in letters to the Metro North board.The court said he had written to the Metro North board raising "concerns about his treatment and the investigation [and] named the staff members who had accused him of bullying and aired his suspicions about the timing of their complaints".Even though Dr Walters had not been allowed to practise at any Metro North hospital since his April 2018 suspension, Metro North only stripped him of his medical credentials last September.In a civil case brought by Dr Walters, Justice Soraya Ryan ruled last week that was an "improper exercise of power" and an "error of law" by Metro North as the allegations had nothing to do with Dr Walters' medical performance.Dr Walters is still awaiting his reinstatement. Mr Miles said, "these kind of incidents happen in workplaces big and small, and we are a very, very big workplace".(ABC New: Tim Swanston)Letter of support signed by 150 staffDocuments obtained by the ABC show the Government was aware of a groundswell of support among PCH staff for Dr Walters' urgent return to clinical work on patient safety grounds.Days after his suspension in 2018, more than 150 hospital staff signed a letter to the Health Minister declaring their "strongest support for Professor Darren Walters [who] has clinical and procedural skills unmatched in this state, or indeed this country"."His absence directly impacts the [cardiac] program's ability to continue to offer a world-class standard of care to our complex patients," they said.In October 2018, more than 170 hospital staff signed a letter to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, saying "the ongoing threat to patient safety has left us with no other reasonable step but to communicate directly with you"."Despite attempts to cover his position internally, the sudden removal of a senior clinician of his calibre has materially impacted on the delivery of essential cardiac services, and both patient care and patient safety has been compromised," it said."Waiting lists for urgent procedures have increased, some of which are not performed elsewhere in the state. Outpatient clinical care has also been adversely affected." Dr Walters has seen a groundswell of support from staff at the hospital.(Supplied: St Vincent's Private Hospital)It said that "serious concerns regarding the impact of this on patient care have been raised but it does not appear these concerns have been taken seriously."The Premier's office wrote back saying a Crime and Corruption Commission investigation then underway meant "further action can also not be considered".It told staff that it had sought a response from Queensland Health about their safety concerns.The department had told the Premier's office that PCH's waiting list for one procedure, transcatheter valve implantation, had increased "as a result of the expanded eligibility criteria".But there were now two cardiologists to perform it, instead of just Dr Walters, it said.Staff wrote another petition to Metro North executives in May last year, calling for Dr Walters' "immediate reinstatement".They wrote that Justice Peter Applegarth's judgment the previous month "appears to raise concerns regarding the conduct of the Metro North Hospital and Health Service executive and the potentially punitive action that has been taken against Professor Walters over the last 12 months".The petition called for Metro North to "reassert its commitment to protect the autonomy of the clinician,
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