Neurologist’s suspension confirmed by tribunal


By Michael Woodhead

26 Oct 2021

A decision of the Medical Board of Australia to suspend the registration of a Melbourne neurologist facing sexual assault charges has been confirmed by the Victorian and Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

According to the Board, it took immediate action to suspend Dr Jacques Joubert on 15 March 2021 after he was charged with nine counts of sexual assault related to a consultation with a patient.

The Board said it believed the suspension was necessary to keep the public safe.

The charges were in relation to a patient who had previously made a notification to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) about Dr Joubert on 19 June 2018.

The patient had alleged that Dr Joubert had improperly touched his genitalia during a consultation for headache on 6 June 2018, without providing any explanation for doing so.

On 9 July 2018, the Board decided to take immediate action and imposed gender restriction conditions on Dr Joubert’s registration to prevent him from seeing male patients.

The gender restrictions operated until the suspension decision was made on 15 March 2021.

According to the tribunal transcript, Dr Joubert, 72, obtained his medical degree in South Africa and has been registered as a medical practitioner in Australia since 1994. It said he practised as a neurologist with extensive training in the sub-speciality of headache, and has been working at Wyndham Specialist Care Centre and Wyndham Private Specialist Suites in Werribee since the July 2018 decision.

On 17 March 2021, after the Board decided to suspend his registration, Dr Joubert filed an application in VCAT for review of the Board’s decision to suspend his registration. He also applied for a stay of the Board’s decision pending the outcome of the review application.

On 13 April 2021, VCAT granted a stay of the operation of the Board’s decision to suspend Dr Joubert’s registration. Accordingly, at the date of the review proceedings, Dr Joubert’s registration was not suspended but was subject to the gender-based restrictions that were in operation prior to the suspension.

The Practitioner’s reasons for the appeal were that he is no risk to the public as his registration is already subject to gender-based restrictions; he is entitled to a presumption of innocence; and suspension does not constitute the minimum force necessary.

On 12 August VCAT delivered its decision,  conforming the decision of the Medical Board of Australia to suspend the registration of Dr Joubert as a medical practitioner.

At its review it also considered four other notifications from patients alleging similar incidents.

The tribunal noted Dr Joubert’s explanations for the genital examination of some patients included testing reflexes in the genital area that may be relevant to assessment of any neurological condition (the Geigel reflex) and examination for an inguinal hernia in the context of a consultation about chronic headaches.

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