Resigned doctor calls for Northern Rivers health boss to go

A SENIOR Lismore doctor who quit the profession after making a complaint about workplace bullying has accused Northern NSW Local Health District chief Chris Crawford of ignoring his appeal for help.

Dr Paul McGeown was one of the foundation doctors who managed the Riverlands Drug and Alcohol Centre from 2001 until June this year.

He resigned from the health service because of the severe personal and professional toll a "totally ineffectively handled workplace bullying complaint" had on him.

"With hindsight I now know that Crawford's style is to silence people who make complaints and it's obvious to me why no action was taken to assist me," he said.

Dr McGeown said he had not worked or had any other income since his resignation.

He wrote to Mr Crawford on Monday to outline his views.

"The only regret I have about resigning from your service in June, 2014, is that I was not around to be asked to add my name to the 84 doctors who signed the petition indicating their lack of professional trust in you," he said.

"It is quite a remarkable feat to achieve such widespread loss of faith from normally conservative doctors and not a proud moment I would imagine."

Mr Crawford said the independent Health Care Complaints Commission and the Independent Commission Against Corruption thoroughly investigated Dr McGeown's concerns and decided to take no further action on the complaints.

"No more details than this can be released without breaching the privacy of Dr McGeown and the other (local health district) staff, who were involved in the disputes, which led to Dr McGeown raising his concerns."

Dr McGeown's resignation also meant the loss of 200 registered drug treatment spots for the Northern Rivers community.

"That represents 200 people who are stuck in drug dependency, committing crime, dealing drugs, engaged in dangerous sex work or putting themselves, their children and their families at risk to buy their injectable drugs," he said.

"As far as I am aware, the intake into the service for new patients has been closed since I left.

"My personal employment issue is not what's important . . . but this is a region where the community values and expects drug treatment to be a priority.

"The Riverlands unit is a wildly expensive unit and now they are one doctor down with no likelihood of replacement it becomes one of the biggest white elephants of the health service.

"It doesn't surprise me that his handling of complaints has reached a parliamentary level, I have seen a side of him that has left me seriously disillusioned with public health." 

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