03 Apr 2017
Mr Shyam Acharya, who claimed to be UK based doctor Dr Sarang Chitale while practising as a medical practitioner, received a criminal conviction today in a New South Wales court.
The Australia Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) successfully prosecuted Mr Acharya for knowingly and recklessly holding out as a medical practitioner.
During proceedings the court heard how he had used another doctor’s medical qualifications and identity to falsely gain registration to practise as a medical practitioner in Australia.
AHPRA started an investigation into Mr Acharya after being alerted by the General Medical Council in the UK on 28 September 2016. Mr Acharya’s former employer, Novotech, had queried the fact that Mr Acharya had been claiming to be a medical practitioner and using Dr Chitale’s name, medical qualifications and UK registration number.
AHPRA took quick action to commence an investigation and laid charges against Mr Acharya in January 2017.
At the hearing at Downing Centre Local Court Mr Acharya was fined $30,000 plus legal cost to AHPRA amounting to $22,000 and Her Honour Chief Magistrate Jennifer Atkinson recorded a criminal conviction.
Pretending to be a registered health practitioner (holding out) is an offence under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.
‘Misusing the title medical practitioner in this way and the broken trust it leaves behind is unacceptable. We will take action to the full extent possible under the National Law on anyone who falsely claims to be a registered health practitioner,’ said Martin Fletcher, AHPRA CEO.
Mr Fletcher has welcomed the recent announcement by Health Ministers at the COAG Health Council that penalties under the National Law will be toughened to include the possibility of imprisonment.
‘The introduction of stronger penalties and increased prohibition powers will strengthen what we can do as regulators to safeguard patients,’ said Mr Fletcher.
Anyone with concerns about the registration status of a person working as a registered health practitioner can check the Register of Practitioners or contact AHPRA on 1300 419 495.