A man has been charged with impersonating a doctor after he allegedly stole another man’s identity, moved to Australia, and worked in hospitals in NSW for more than a decade.
He then “used the identity of the doctor to gain employment in the NSW public health system”.
The alleged deception was not detected until November 2016, when the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency began investigating him for “falsely holding himself out as a registered medical practitioner”.
NSW Health was notified shortly afterwards and launched its own investigation, deputy secretary Karen Crawshaw said.
Australian Federal Police, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have also been alerted.
“It is alleged in these proceedings that Mr Acharya appropriated another doctor’s name and medical qualifications while living in India and that he used these stolen and other fraudulent documents to gain registration falsely with the Medical Board of NSW,” Ms Crawshaw said.
“The matters currently before the court do not deal with how he was able to enter and leave Australia or how he obtained Australian citizenship in the name of the other doctor.”
Authorities have been unable to find or contact Mr Acharya, saying his current whereabouts are unknown.
His case was mentioned at Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on Monday, however he did not appear. The matter is due to return to court in early April.
Mr Acharya has been charged under section 116 of the Health Practitioner National Regulation Law (NSW), which makes it an offence to use a title that could make others believe you are a registered medical professional.
If he is convicted, he faces a fine of up to $30,000.
NSW Health said Mr Acharya was a junior doctor with limited registration, meaning he was required to work under the supervision of others.
Investigations on the Central Coast and in Northern Sydney found “only one clinical incident where there were concerns about the adequacy of the treatment” he provided.
“It is noted that Mr Acharya’s involvement was only as one of a number in the clinical team that treated the patient. NSW Health has notified solicitors acting for the patient,” Ms Crawshaw said.
“The Medical Council of NSW and the Health Care Complaints Commission have advised they have received no complaints about Mr Acharya.”
Ms Crawshaw said NSW Health had strengthened its recruitment processes since 2011, now requiring “direct verbal referee checks” for all doctors, including those from overseas.
Registrations are also processed in a national system, not state-by-state as they were in 2003.
Any patients with concerns have been advised to call the Central Coast Local Health District on (02) 4320 3920 or the Northern Sydney Local Health District on (02) 9462 9778.