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NRI lawyer quits over Indian doc issue

india Updated: Oct 18, 2006 15:54 IST
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Queensland Attorney General Linda Lavarch has resigned due to depression after being embroiled in a controversy surrounding a failed deal to return India born surgeon Jayant Patel, dubbed Dr Death by the media, to Australia from the US.

Lavarch has been under increasing pressure from opposition parties in parliament after she revealed last week that she rejected an offer by Patel's lawyers in June to bring him back to Australia to face criminal charges, said reports.

Patel's work as director of surgery at the Bundaberg Base Hospital, Queensland, has been linked to at least 17 deaths and dozens of injuries.

The deal would have enabled him to return to his home in the US between court appearances and put in place a media blackout on his arrival to Queensland, according to the Australian.

"After consulting with my doctor, my husband Michael and my family I've decided that resignation from the ministry and a period of sick leave from parliament is the best course," Lavarch said.

"I have been advised by my doctor that this episode reflects a biological condition of depression which has been building for some time," she added.

Patel fled Australia in March 2005, just a fortnight before it was revealed that he had deceived the Queensland Medical Board.

The Indian-born surgeon has also been accused of fraud for allegedly falsifying his application to practice medicine in Australia, by removing any mention of his previous tarnished record in the US.

Patel studied medicine in India and there after went to US, where the first complaint against him was made in 1984, when he was found not to be examining patients adequately before surgery.

Due to concerns over his work, he was restricted from carrying out certain types of operations - such as liver and pancreatic surgeries - in the US.

Later, Patel's US medical license was terminated.

The case has raised concerns over the recruitment of overseas doctors in rural parts of Australia, where there is a shortage of medical personnel.

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