24 Mar 2022
Ms Zhi Sin Lee pleaded guilty in November 2021 to falsely claiming to be qualified to practise as a health practitioner following a charge laid by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra).
In January 2022, she was convicted in the Local Court of New South Wales and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment to be served by Intensive Corrections Order in the community and a fine of $10,000.
Ms Lee appealed her sentence to the Sydney District Court of NSW claiming it was too severe.
Today the Sydney District Court heard the appeal. The court confirmed Ms Lee’s conviction and the $10,000 fine but reduced the term of imprisonment to be served in the community from 24 months to 18 months.
Ms Lee is not qualified as a medical practitioner and is not registered to practise anywhere in Australia under the National Law. Ahpra charged Ms Lee with one count of falsely claiming to be qualified to practise in breach of section 116 of the National Law.
In handing down the appeal sentence, District Court Judge Bennett noted that the offending was ‘serious’, that ‘protection of the public is a paramount consideration in this case’ and that ‘no sentence other than imprisonment would be appropriate’ in these circumstances.
In 2020, Ms Lee was part-way through completing a Doctor of Medicine qualification at the University of New South Wales but failed a number of disciplines and was advised she would not be eligible to graduate. Despite this, she accepted a position as a medical intern at Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital for the 2021 intake of intern medical practitioners and worked 126 shifts between 18 January and 9 August 2021. Her employment was immediately terminated when the hospital discovered she was not registered.
Medical interns must hold an approved qualification in medicine and surgery after completing an accredited program of study and have provisional registration with the Medical Board of Australia, before they can undertake accredited intern training.