Andrews now shifts blame from Haneef to Oz health services

November 14th, 2007 - 8:29 am ICT by admin  
Amid continuing controversy over the bungled detention of Mohamad Haneef, two medical groups claimed the dispute had caused a 90 per cent reduction in the number of overseas-trained doctors wanting to work in Australia.

The Overseas and Australian Medical Graduates Association, in a joint statement yesterday with the United Indian Associations, said the backlash would exacerbate staffing shortages.

Health Minister Tony Abbott’s office referred calls on the issue to Andrews, whose spokeswoman insisted Dr Haneef’s visa was cancelled on character grounds, not because of his nationality or occupation.

“I’m not aware of any evidence doctors would be dissuaded from coming to work in Australia because of our immigration rules,” the spokeswoman said.

“Doctors will come to work in Australia if there are quality hospitals and good working conditions, and that’s up to the individual state health system,” she added.

The New South Wales Government has been battling to restore confidence in its health service following a series of incidents, including a woman miscarrying in the toilets of Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital.

Queensland Health Minister Stephen Robertson, whose state has had to contend with a backlash over the malpractice scandal involving overseas-trained doctor Jayant Patel, has previously confirmed there was a downturn in international interest in working in the state as a result of the Haneef affair.

Dr Haneef and a colleague, Mohammed Asif Ali, were working at the Gold Coast Hospital when they became embroiled in the investigation into two failed terror attacks in Britain in June.

Dr Haneef was initially suspected of being linked to a terrorist group, while Dr Asif Ali was found to have embellished his CV. Both have since returned to India.

Dr. Prakash of the OAMGA said there was “growing anger among Australians of Indian background” over the Howard Government’s handling of the Haneef affair, adding it could bring “discredit to the Indian community in Australia.”

“There is a growing body of evidence Dr Haneef was used as a political pawn,” Dr Prakash said.

“UIA and OAMGA strongly urge the federal Government, and the Immigration Minister, to restore credibility to the recruitment process for overseas-trained doctors in order to avoid the looming crisis in the health delivery system.” (ANI)

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