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Queensland health minister Cameron Dick. Image: APN Australian Regional Media

Nurse imposter charged with fraud

The Queensland health minister has announced a departmental taskforce investigation following revelations that a man impersonating a nurse was employed for six weeks at a health centre.

The health minister, Cameron Dick, has confirmed that the man – who was not named – was employed as a nurse by the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service (HHS) at the Aurukun Primary Health Centre on Cape York after using someone else’s registration details. He is not known to hold any health-related registration of his own.

He has since been dismissed by the HHS. After the matter was initially referred to the Queensland Police Service, as well as the state’s Crime and Corruption Commission and Health Ombudsman,  Queensland police charged a 30-year-old Darwin man on Saturday with one count of fraud.

The man is expected to appear in Cairns Magistrates court on April 24.

Dick said there was some indication the man had previously been employed in other health systems around the country. He called the employment of a person impersonating a nurse totally unacceptable.

“A check of registration details for a nurse, conducted as part of the health payroll system, found the nursing registration number provided by the employee was not [his],” Dick said. “I am concerned that the initial recruitment and screening for this person, which occurred in December 2014 and January 2015, did not reveal this issue.

“The Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service immediately took action to suspend the employee as soon as the discrepancy in registration had been confirmed. However, I am advised that by that time the person had worked at Aurukun for about six weeks.”

Dick said he had instructed his department to commence a full investigation into the circumstances leading to the appointment in order to determine if this case raised any systemic problems within HHS processes.

“A full review of this person’s clinical work and patient contact during the entire six-week period they worked at Aurukun has commenced,” Dick said. “I am advised that a complete clinical review of all interactions between this person and community members has also commenced.

“Other jurisdictions have been advised and I will be raising this issue with Australian health ministers when we meet [in April].”

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