Friday, August 01, 2008


Red News Readers,

It is hardly credible that no one is responsible for the appointment of Dr Reeves to positions that he should not have been appointed to and that he was allowed for so long to get away with sub standard practice. It will be interesting indeed to see if these Greater Southern Area bureaucrats are reprimanded. Perhaps NSW Health could consider its role in allowing medical specialist services to rural areas to decline so badly that an Area Health Service had to rely on someone like Dr Reeves.

Dr Reeves may have apologised to his patients no doubt in the vain hope that he is mitigating the amount of damages he may have to pay in the future. He may also consider apologising to the nursing and midwifery staff who worked with him who suffered badly from his poor practice and his arrogant behaviour. He may also consider apologising to the medical profession for dragging its reputation through the mud!! But I doubt if such apologies are going to cut much ice in the criminal courts.

Jenny Haines

I'm sorry: Butcher of Bega

Natasha Wallace Health Reporter, smh

August 1, 2008

THE so-called Butcher of Bega has expressed "sincere regret for his actions" after a report recommended he be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for possible criminal charges after lying his way into a job as an obstetrician at two South Coast hospitals.

The Health Minister, Reba Meagher, and the Health Department chief, Debora Picone, are yet to hold anyone responsible for the debacle in which Graeme Reeves was employed as an obstetrician despite being banned from the practice.

Reeves is being investigated by police over allegations of botched operations, genital mutilation and sexual assault upon hundreds of women at Bega and Pambula hospitals after he was employed by the Greater Southern Area Health Service in April 2002.

He was banned from practising obstetrics in 1997 after a string of serious complaints including two patient deaths.

A report released yesterday by Commissioner Peter Garling, SC, found significant systemic failures in the hiring of Reeves - health executives failed to conduct adequate background checks or even check his registration status. But while the future of two health department executives is under scrutiny, Mr Garling said "Reeves's dishonesty was the key reason he was recruited".

Ms Meagher said the report was referred to the DPP, Nicholas Cowdery, QC, yesterday.

"I would hope that the victims would feel encouraged to know that there has been a lot of work done in strengthening the recruitment procedures so this can't happen again," she said.

She said she supported all of Mr Garling's 10 recommendations aimed at tightening recruitment procedures.

It was revealed yesterday that Reeves gave evidence in private to the inquiry in May.

The inquiry detailed a litany of incompetence and mistreatment of patients, which Reeves agreed had occurred. He was asked, for example: "Your inaction in her case was a gross example of neglect of care of a patient who may have died as a result of your 'inexplicable denial and refusal of appropriate help offered by another doctor and experienced nurses'; you accepted the validity of that finding [by the NSW Medical Board], did you not?"

"Yes," he said.

Mr Garling said in his report that Reeves, through his solicitor, "indicated that he had reflected upon his conduct following his appearance before the Special Commission and conveyed his sincere regret for his actions".

Three Greater Southern Area Health Service executives instrumental in hiring Reeves - Jon Mortimer, Robert Arthurson and Denise Robinson - were named but Mr Garling said they were not ultimately to blame as the findings were made with the benefit of hindsight.

"I find that Dr Reeves's intentional and calculated dishonesty was the main reason he was recruited to a position that he was legally unable to fill," Mr Garling said.

"I, specifically, do not find that the conduct of these individuals was unreasonable or inappropriate," he said.

He recommended that the conduct of "Reeves in seeking and obtaining an appointment as a visiting specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist" be referred to Mr Cowdery.

The Opposition health spokeswoman, Jillian Skinner, said Ms Meagher had failed to hold anyone accountable: "I feel for the victims of Dr Graeme Reeves that they have no answer as to who was to blame for employing him."'

The report said both Dr Robinson, who was chief executive of the area health service at the time, and Dr Arthurson, then director of medical services, "failed to take sufficient steps" to stop Reeves from practising obstetrics when they made the discovery in November 2002 that he was banned. Reeves treated five more obstetric patients up until January 2003.

Yesterday, Professor Picone said she would meet with Dr Arthurson and Dr Mortimer "as soon as possible". She confirmed the public would know within weeks whether they would be reprimanded.

Dr Robinson resigned in May as chief health officer of NSW Health. Dr Mortimer, criticised in the report for only contacting one referee, was suspended on full pay in May.

The report was the first from Mr Garling's Special Commission of Inquiry into Acute Care Services in NSW Public Hospitals held earlier this year.

Reeves told the inquiry that he made it clear to Dr Arthurson and Dr Mortimer that he only wanted to practise gynaecology and he was not applying to work as an obstetrician, although he admitted not telling them that he was in fact banned.