26 Jul 2015

DHB apologises over alleged identity fraud

5:03 pm on 26 July 2015

The Waikato District Health Board says it's very sorry and extremely concerned that a man apparently using someone else's medical qualifications was able to treat mental health patients.

A man appeared in court yesterday charged with fraud after a senior psychiatrist supervising him became worried about the man's professional ability.

The Waikato DHB referred the case to the police.

The man had been working as part of the mental health team for six months, from 19 January to 17 July.

Chief executive Nigel Murray said the man passed through the Medical Council vetting and the DHB vetting process.

"New Zealand has very thorough processes. Clearly in this era we are in, in this particular case of alleged fraud, we need to be extra vigilant. And probably add new steps and new procedures to protect us against that."

"If your question is can the public be reassured about the qualifications of doctors - absolutely they can. This is a rare event. It has happened in New Zealand before and in many other countries," said Dr Murray.

"And I am very sorry that it happened here at the Waikato District Health Board."

Dr Murray said patients were now being contacted.

"There were about 75 patients that he saw in that team-based environment and then there are 25 who are more on an individual basis. So we are concentrating on all of them but we are particularly focusing on those 25 patients.

"We are presently looking to find them, speak to them and that's well on its process. I can't give you the exact figure of who we've contacted so far."

Dr Murray said no patients had been harmed that he was aware of.

"So far we have found no harm caused, but we're ever vigilant and we're going through every record and contacting all the key people that need to be contacted. Again I would emphasise please if you have concerns we want to hear abut them."

Dr Murray said anyone who had concerns about the treatment they received from the community base mental health team should call 0800 50 50 50.

Father says fraud case highlights security issues

The father of a patient who died under the care of the Henry Bennett Centre in Hamilton says the centre's current fraud case highlights major security and management issues.

Dave Macpherson's 21-year-old son, Nicky Stevens, was found dead in the Waikato River on 12 March when he was supposed to be at the mental health centre.

Mr Macpherson requested his son's medical records, but was told they had been stolen.

He said there were no systems in place to protect the files.

Mr Macpherson said the management did not care about details and was far too relaxed, which was making other patients' parents worried about what sort of care they were receiving.

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