Canberra cardiologist Muayad Alasady loses initial court bid to revoke suspension amid bullying investigation

A senior cardiologist suspended by the Canberra Hospital during an investigation into workplace bullying has lost round one of his case with the Federal Court, rejecting an application to stall the inquiry until his formal case is heard.

Key points:

  • Dr Muayad Alasady had lodged a case in the Federal Court, asking for his suspension to be revoked until the full case was heard
  • Justice Elizabeth Raper denied that bid
  • No date has been set for the hearing into the formal case

Muayad Alasady claimed he had been denied procedural fairness under the enterprise agreement and complained about a clear case of apprehension of bias, given hospital managers who have sanctioned him have already made public comments about sacking anyone found guilty of disciplinary offences.

Dr Alasady said that bias meant his sacking was pre-determined and he took the case to the Federal Court in the hope his suspension could be revoked.

His application detailed findings from several inquiries that drew on allegations from staff in the hospital's cardiology department.

Those allegations included inappropriate behaviour by some people working in the department, with claims of bullying and outbursts, including swearing, kicking doors and throwing objects, and consultants shouting and screaming at each other.

A culture of blame and a lack of respect for co-workers by some doctors was also identified along with a clash between Dr Alasady and another doctor.

Lawyers for Dr Alasady said that managers at Canberra Health Services (CHS) had considered the reports and took no action against Dr Alasady until the most recent inquiry.

Dr Alasady was told in March that he would be suspended, during a formal investigation.

He maintains he has been denied procedural fairness and his bid to stall the investigation until the Federal Court hears his case has fallen flat.

Judge says case 'weak'

Justice Elizabeth Raper found the initial case was weak.

Justice Raper said the concerns about Dr Alasady's inevitable sacking were highly speculative, given the investigation was being done by independent lawyer Claire Carton.

“She has set out in detail the allegations and the supporting material,” the judge said.

“She has provided the applicant with numerous ways to respond and engage in the process and afforded him multiple extensions to put on his response.

“There is nothing on the evidence to suggest that her task is infected with any of the alleged biased views of the CEO of the CHS.”

Justice Raper also noted it was true that the hospital manager would be the one issuing sanctions, but the termination was only one of several options, and there were also avenues of appeal if a person was found to have taken part in misconduct.

There is no date yet for a formal hearing into the substantial matters.

Another senior doctor from Canberra Hospital, Bronwyn Avard, has also taken a case to the Federal Court after she was subjected to an investigation for misconduct, however that case is yet to be heard.

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