Australian officials don't know if 'fake' doctor performed surgery

Australian officials don't know if 'fake' doctor performed surgery

A man who posed as a doctor with fake qualifications for a decade in Australia is believed to have fled the country after being exposed as a fraud.

New South Wales authorities have released a passport photo of Shyam Acharya - the man who allegedly duped the state's hospitals and emergency departments in what one MP is comparing to the Leonardo DiCaprio film Catch Me If You Can.

Shyam Acharya (Supplied) australia new south wales
Shyam Acharya (Supplied)

Acharya is believed to have faked his citizenship, forged a passport and altering medical qualifications stolen from a doctor in India, The Daily Telegraph reports.

He's thought to have assumed the identity of 'Sarang Chitale' and worked in the health system between 2003 and 2014 in Manly, Hornsby, Wyong and Gosford hospitals.

He managed to become registered with the NSW Medical Board in 2003 using the stolen medical qualifications and other forged documents.

Having left the health sector in May 2014, it is thought he started working at a private company which didn't involve working with patients.

He was so convincing, he'd become well regarded by his peers, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Since the discovery, cases in which the fake doctor was involved have been combed through and so far had been linked to a botched procedure involving a broken limb.

The state's health minister Brad Hazzard isn't sure whether the man had actually performed surgeries or not, and would not go into details about how Acharya's scam came undone.

"I am horrified that this fellow managed to get into the NSW hospital system.

"If we can catch this guy, he deserves jail," he said.

 NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says what happened was "shocking", but the system had been changed with more "stringent processes".

The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority investigated Acharya and he has been charged with breaching the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law which has a maximum AU$30,000 fine.

It wasn't until November last year that NSW Health became aware of that investigation, at which point they started digging into Acharya's history.

NSW shadow health minister Walt Secord has called for the government to reveal more about what the doctor managed to do, saying it showed a "widespread systematic failure".

"If this matter wasn't so shocking, the details would read like a shoddy Down Under version of Leonardo DiCaprio's Catch Me If You Can," he said.