Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Australia's Dubious Dr. Jayant Patel

The Morris Inquiry

Anthony Morris QC
Anthony Morris QC

While Queensland Health was in the midst of their investigation into the Patel scandal, the government began their own separate inquiry, headed by barrister Tony Morris QC (Queens Counsel). The focus of the hearings centered on Patel but also looked at possible cover-ups by hospital staff and allegations of mismanagement. The hearings began on May 23, 2005, in a Brisbane magistrate's court. Early into the trial, it became evident that the problems surrounding the Patel scandal were much bigger than initially thought. According to Chandler, "a picture emerged of a deeply dysfunctional management structure (at the hospital), one where the people looking after the books and the people looking after the patients operated in parallel universes, rarely co-operating or talking," especially when it came to Patel's questionable medical practices.

One of the first to be interviewed during the inquiry was Hoffman, who gave detailed testimony about her experiences with Patel and patients he treated. She explained that his medical practice far exceeded his knowledge and, when there were complications, he would try to cover up his failings by falsifying reports. She was quoted by Foley saying, "Dr. Patel would often write up surgery according to how it should have gone rather than how it did go."

During testimony, Hoffman recounted in detail how some of Patel's patients suffered from his negligence, including a female cancer patient whose surgical wounds continually unraveled to expose her intestines when Patel failed to stitch her up properly and how another man died while undergoing pancreatic surgery. She further stated that she tried to alert hospital authorities and Queensland Health about Patel's negligence, but they made no visible attempt to investigate the matter, at least not until much later. With tears in her eyes, Hoffman said, "The only attempt that was made was to further bully and intimidate us (the nursing staff) and threaten us with jail and all sorts of things," AAP General News reported.