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A disgraced doctor who faked documents because he was “so desperate to get to New Zealand” has been let off without a sentence.
The 37-year-old was previously disciplined after being found guilty of an ethical matter while working as a junior doctor in Malta, but concealed this information when applying to the Medical Council of New Zealand for registration.
The man, who has interim name suppression, earlier pleaded guilty in the Wellington District Court to forgery and using a document for pecuniary advantage.
He was “desperate” to leave his home in Australia for reasons that are suppressed, Judge Peter Hobbs said today.
“I accept that you were facing difficult circumstances, I accept that you wanted to obtain employment as a doctor here in New Zealand,” the judge said.
The man was required to get a certificate of good standing from any jurisdictions he had worked in over the past five years, so the Medical Council could make a decision on whether to grant him registration.
A certificate of good standing confirms a doctor’s registration and notes whether or not there have been any complaints, investigations, or disciplinary action in the time of the doctor’s registration.
The certificate he sent through from his time at Malta left out any details of his disciplinary action. He also filled out a form confirming he had not gone through any disciplinary action when in fact he had.
His offending was discovered when he was stood down over poor performance issues and competency concerns while working as a junior doctor for Whanganui District Health Board.
The Medical Council reviewed his situation and his subterfuge around his documentation was revealed.
Defence lawyer John Dean said the man had been unable to work or further his qualifications since being charged in October 2015. He had made multiple applications for unpaid observation work but was always turned down.
Dean said his client was “so desperate to get to New Zealand that he committed this offence”.
“That one episode in his life, in my submission, shouldn’t crucify him for the rest of his professional life.
“He is a doctor. He’s not a person who’s applied or has found a job at a hospital without any medical qualifications.”
Judge Hobbs declined to discharge the man without conviction, but decided to convict him without sentence, as he said a conviction was “sufficient” and the man had “suffered a number of consequences” already.
He declined to grant permanent name suppression, but made an interim suppression order in case Dean planned to lodge an appeal against the suppression decision.
If no appeal is lodged, suppression will lapse in three weeks.