Setback for cardiologist in lawsuit against Canberra Hospital

The senior cardiologist suspended by Canberra Hospital pending the outcome of an investigation into alleged workplace misconduct and bullying has suffered a setback in his lawsuit against management, with a judge describing his case as weak.

Dr Muayad Alasady argued the hospital’s administration was biased against him given its CEO had spoken publicly about wanting a cultural shift and removing anyone who exhibited “consistent poor behaviour”.

Claiming that many of the allegations were historic and had already been dealt with, he took his case to the Federal Court of Australia last month seeking he be allowed to return to work.

Documents filed with the court show he was suspended after multiple reviews into the unit uncovered allegations of a toxic environment, led by a group of “arrogant” cardiologists .

One review completed in March this year found some consultants, including Dr Alasady, were unable to work together and also “abused the positions they occupied in the public hospital by failing to carry out their full range of duties or adhere to rostered hours”.

They also “failed to respect the qualifications and abilities of nursing and allied health staff, treating them with disdain and a lack of respect”, the review found.

Dr Alasady has denied all wrongdoing, telling the limbic in a statement last week he “totally rejected” all allegations of misconduct while at the hospital.

“The allegations against me are unclear, unfair, and biased,” he said.

“Key allegations are historical – some date back to 2016 – and have already been dealt with without any findings of misconduct being made, and without the Canberra Health Service (CHS) even telling me until March this year.”

“However, the CHS seems determined to keep raising them, and then adding new allegations or variations, regardless of due process.”

At the end of last week, the court rejected Dr Alasady’s bid to immediately suspend the investigation and reinstate him in his position until the lawsuit is completed.

Justice Elizabeth Raper said she had formed a preliminary assessment that while the cardiologist may have some case, “the claim is a weak one”.

She also said it was unlikely the investigation was biased against Dr Alasady, given an independent legal team had been brought in to undertake it.

On top of that, he had been given ample opportunities to participate in the probe but had repeatedly refused to do so, Justice Raper said.

“In addition, the allegations include conduct that purportedly creates an unsafe environment which may be contrary to [the hospital’s] work, health and safety obligations, she said.

“It is alleged that [Dr Alasady] has behaved in an unprofessional manner, fostering a dysfunctional relationship with staff, unfairly criticising and disparaging colleagues.”

It comes after the hospital admitted its cardiology service had been seriously disrupted as a result of the loss of its senior staff in recent months.

Hospital CEO Dave Peffer told an ACT estimates hearing it was now reliant on a locum workforce.

“We did have a full suite of skills within the department to carry out a critical range of services,” Mr Peffer said.

“Resulting from some of the actions and the processes that we commenced during that time, we did have an impact on our workforce and that did impact a number of the services that were previously available through our cardiology department.”

“As a result of that, we worked with colleagues in NSW, which is not an unusual thing for us to do, we do that in a range of specialities in areas within the health service.”

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