Cancer patients receive wrong dose
ABC’s 7.30 programme aired allegations on Thursday night that 70 patients at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney were given the wrong dose of the chemotherapy drug, Carboplatin. Vision: ABC.
Publicly-funded St Vincent’s Hospital will not be forced to hand over documentation to state Parliament over the under-dosing of up to 70 chemotherapy patients because the hospital is privately run by a Catholic ministry.
In February the state Legislative Council passed a resolution seeking documents from the Health Minister, NSW Health and the hospital after St Vincent’s oncologist Dr John Grygiel administered incorrect doses of the chemotherapy drug Carboplatin to head and neck cancer patients from up to three years.
St Vincent’s Hospital is at the centre of the inquiries in Dr John Gyrgiel’s chemotherapy dosing regime for cancer patients. Photo: Joosep Martinson
The documentation would have included internal investigation and external review commissioned by the hospital.
But the Office of the Premier and Cabinet says it cannot compel St Vincent’s to hand over the documentation because the hospital “is not subject to ministerial control”.
The inner-Sydney hospital is publicly funded and operates within the NSW public health system, but is overseen by St Vincent’s Health Australia.
Dr John Grygiel. Photo: Supplied
“According to its website, St Vincent’s Health Australia is a group of not-for-profit companies operating under the stewardship of Mary Aikenhead Ministries,” general counsel Paul Miller wrote to the NSW Legislative Council on March 1.
“It does not form part of the executive government of New South Wales and nor is it otherwise subject to ministerial direction and control,” Mr Miller wrote.
The Mary Aikenhead Ministries were established by the Vatican to provide health, aged care, education and welfare ministries in Australia.
The Mary Aikenhead Ministries logo Photo: Supplied.
A government spokesman said the Legislative Council could directly liaise with St Vincent’s to access the documentation.
“We’ve asked for full transparency from St Vincent’s and it’s not providing it,” said Greens NSW health spokesman Jeremy Buckingham.
“Moreover the government is incapable of providing proper oversight,” said Mr Buckingham, whose mother-in-law was treated for cancer at St Vincent’s by Dr Grygiel’s team before she died in 2013.
A spokesman for the hospital said that St Vincent’s was still examining its response to the order for papers from the NSW Parliament, which is due on the March 17.
St Vincent’s has agreed to hand over the documents to an inquiry into the under-dosing errors co-chaired by the NSW Cancer Institute and the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission.
The hospital is also complying with requests for the documents from the Medical Board of Australia and the Health Care Complaints Commission, which are also investigating the conduct of Dr Grygiel.
Dr Grygiel has not treated patients at the hospital since he was placed on leave in February following the dosing error revelations. He was due to retire in March.