Popular Hamilton doctor barred from practicing
Wednesday 18 Aug 2010 5:31 p.m.
By Michael Morrah
The Medical Council has suspended a Hamilton doctor's practicing certificate after patients complained about his conduct.
But that's angered other patients, who rely on Dr Suresh Vatsyayann for free consultations.
Now they're worried about where to turn for medical help.
Paul Herbison weighs 231kg, is on the benefit and a has a variety of health problems.
"Without Suresh, I'm finished," he says. "I cannot afford what it would cost me to go and see another doctor on a regular basis."
He visits Dr Vatsyayann twice a month.
"I've had injections, I've had referrals to other specialists, but I've never been charged by him for anything."
But not all patients are happy. Complaints resulted in him being found guilty of providing false or misleading medical notes last year.
Now there are fresh accusations, and, in a letter this week, his patients were advised that the Medical Council was suspending his practising certificate.
"The seriousness of these complaints has been at a threshold that the professional conduct committee has considered it serious enough to lay a charge," says chairman John Adams.
"I think it's horrible what they're doing to him because he is only trying to help the community," says patient Sally Sehnert, "and I think being free he does help as there's thousands of unemployed people that go to him."
But the Medical Council says the interim suspension is in the best interests of the patients.
"The council's responsibility is to protect the health and safety of the public," says Mr Adams.
It is relatively uncommon for doctors to face misconduct charges. Eleven doctors have been charged so far this year out of more than 12,000 who practice and perform more than 11 million consultations every year.
Dr Vatsyayann, who wouldn't be interviewed today, has been given till Friday to stop working at his practice.
Dr Vatsyayann will be back before the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal in October and again in February on a number of charges relating to issues with his record keeping. A public meeting will be held with his supporters in Hamilton tomorrow.