Criminal proceedings have been launched against an Adelaide surgeon accused of falsifying his time sheets, following an investigation by the state’s anti-corruption commissioner.
- The 56-year-old Kingswood man has been charged with 25 counts of deception
- The man, a surgeon for SA Health, is accused of making fraudulent time sheet claims totalling more than $65,000
- He has been summonsed to appear in court on June 1
In a statement, Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) Ann Vanstone said the 56-year-old Kingswood man had been charged with 25 counts of deception.
The man is employed by SA Health at a metropolitan hospital in Adelaide.
The Director of Public Prosecutions will allege that between June 25, 2017, and April 27, 2018, the surgeon deceived SA Health by submitting time sheets that falsely claimed he had been recalled to the hospital to perform surgery, and that he had performed that surgery.
Commissioner Vanstone said it was alleged the fraudulent claims total more than $65,000.
“It will be alleged that in some instances claims were made for procedures with which the surgeon had no involvement; in others he merely offered advice to a more junior doctor but did not perform the relevant procedure himself,” Commissioner Vanstone’s statement read.
“Other claims were for procedures the surgeon did perform, but in ordinary working hours for which he was already being paid. Still others concerned claims for surgery undertaken in his private capacity.
“It is alleged that in all but one instance the time sheets were certified and authorised by the surgeon himself.”
The man has been summonsed to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court at 10am on June 1, 2021.
Risks flagged by former ICAC
In October 2019, it was revealed the South Australian government had refused to fund a review of corruption in the health system, despite acknowledging corruption in the system was being shielded by poor record-keeping and maladministration.
Former ICAC Bruce Lander released letters showing he had requested $2 million in August 2018 to fund an evaluation of the Central Adelaide Local Health Network — but treasurer Rob Lucas wrote back to Mr Lander, refusing the funding request.
Mr Lander later released his report in December 2019, describing SA Health as “ripe for exploitation by corrupt employees”.
Mr Lander said the report, titled “Troubling Ambiguity: Governance in SA Health”, highlighted “several areas of concern I have about governance arrangements in SA Health that contribute to risks of corruption, misconduct and maladministration”.
“Persons who approve salaried specialists’ time sheets have little or in some cases no ability to determine whether or not they are accurate,” Mr Lander noted in the 2019 report.
“Because salaried specialists work autonomously at different locations and campuses it is inherently difficult to determine what hours have been worked.
“Some salaried specialists have approved their own time sheets.
“I have seen time sheets that have been approved that record that a medical specialist performed ‘normal duties’ or similar on a particular day at a LHN. However, other evidence showed that the particular specialist was in fact working at another location and being separately remunerated.”
The auditor-general had also expressed concerns about time sheet practices in SA Health.
Following Mr Lander’s report, health minister Stephen Wade announced a taskforce to crack down on corruption and maladministration in SA Health.