Shyam Acharya fake doctor who stole the identity of Dr. Sarang Chitale and worked for 11 years in Australian hospitals

Dr Yadu Singh

Sydney, 11 March, 2017

It is a matter of grave concern that Shyam Acharya stole the identity and medical degrees of Dr Sarang Chitale, and then entered Australia where he worked as a junior doctor  in 4 NSW hospitals-Hornsby, Manly, Wyong and Gosford hospitals during 2003-2014. He was on a limited registration and was permitted to work under supervision in public hospitals. He never went though rigorous medical registration processes.

The identity and degrees he stole from is Dr Sarang Chitale who is a reputed Rheumatologist in North England.

Shyam Acharya obtained Australian citizenship too. After co-workers developed suspicion about his medical background after 2014-15, when worked in  pharmaceutical companies, a complaint was made to Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Authority (AHPRA). AHPRA has taken him to the court under relevant laws. The case is pending in a Sydney court. He is facing a maximum of $30,000 fines.  His whereabouts are unknown presently. It is suspected that he has fled to India.

NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, is keen for the relevant rules to be amended so that Mr Acharya or anyone else who acts or pretends as a doctor, but is not a registered doctor and not entitled to hold himself/herself out  as a medical doctor, is also punished with a jail term. Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, supports this proposal.

NSW Health is exploring the possibility to recoup the money paid by NSW Government to this fake doctor  by forcing the sale and seizing his share in a  house, which he co-owns in Ryde. Apparently, this  house is worth  $1.5 million in value.

Multiple investigations are under way currently to get to the bottom of how a fake doctor could work for 11 years within NSW Public Health  System and obtain Australian citizenship, before getting caught.

This case is all over the news and people are talking about it because of its brazen nature and long duration. Many doctors are quite concerned about this case because of its real and potential consequences for patients. It also has a potential to create a substantial harm to medical profession, especially to those who share his  geographical origin as a way of their background or ethnicity.

System failed here big time, but it is well-known that systems and processes for medical registration have been tightened since  2013. Identification and credentialing are performed quite stringently.

In due course, investigating authorities will find out ins and outs of this matter, and get him extradited from wherever he is currently hiding. He must be brought to justice.

We believe that fines alone are not sufficient penalties for such people. Jail terms should also be in place to  create a significant deterrence against such behaviour. Federation of Indian Associations of NSW is demanding a review of the punishment regime for those who violate the law in this regard. It is not appropriate or permissible for any person to write  “Dr.” before their names and hold themselves as medical practitioners if they are not registered as a medical  practitioner in Australia.

Similarly, there is a trend for some with a PhD from overseas to write “Dr.” before their names, even when they are working in a totally unrelated area (to the field of their  PhD) to gain undeserved reputation and credibility.  Unfortunately, some of these people are involved in disreputable, if not illegal,  activities  like exploitation of vulnerable  people and are not known to have integrity. We believe that  people should not  be permitted to hold themselves out as scientists or research scholars,  with prefix “Dr.” before their names, if they are not working in the field of  their PhD.


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