Melbourne, March 10, 2017: An Indian man working in various hospitals for more than a decade in Australia has been accused of impersonating a doctor. The immigration minister termed the case as a “big failing of the system”.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported, Shyam Acharya rechristened himself as Sarang Chitale, before he began a new life in Australia, where he registered with the Medical Board of New South Wales (NSW) in 2003.
To gain employment in the NSW public health system, he then used the identity of the doctor. The authorities have been unable to find or contact him saying his current whereabouts are unknown.
Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton stated the issue is a “big failing of the system”, warning the ramifications could have been “diabolical”, if he had posed a national security threat.
As a junior doctor from 2003 to May 2014, Acharya worked for NSW Health at four hospitals in Australia.
Before moving to medical research group Novatech in 2016, Acharya worked for international pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, in 2013.
The alleged deception was not detected until November 2016, when the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency began investigating him for “falsely holding himself out as a registered medical practitioner”.
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Australian Federal Police, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have been alerted and notified.
NSW Health was notified shortly afterward and launched its own investigation, deputy secretary Karen Crawshaw said.
“It is alleged in these proceedings that Acharya appropriated another doctor’s name and medical qualifications while living in India and that he used these stolen and other fraudulent documents to gain registration falsely with the Medical Board of NSW,” Crawshaw stated.
“The matters currently before the court do not deal with how he was able to enter and leave Australia or how he obtained Australian citizenship in the name of the other doctor,” she said.
The matter is due to return to court in early April, as reported by PTI (Press Trust of India).
Under section 116 of the Health Practitioner National Regulation Law (NSW), Acharya has been charged. This makes it an offence to use a title that could make others believe you are a registered medical professional.
If he is convicted, he faces a fine of up to USD 30,000.
NSW Health said Acharya was a junior doctor with limited registration, meaning he was required to work under the supervision of others.
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“It is noted that Acharya’s involvement was only as one of a number in the clinical team that treated the patient. NSW Health has notified solicitors acting for the patient,” Crawshaw said.
– prepared by Sabhyata Badhwar of NewsGram. Twitter: @SabbyDarkhorse