Melbourne physician Dr Hassan Alkazali offered to help his anxious and vulnerable patient to get her pension for disability. However, at the same time, he sent her a string of text messages suggesting sex in return for the favour.

The incident was brought to the attention of the Medical Board of Australia three and a half years ago, yet Alkazali is still allowed to keep practising without conditions.

A Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribune (VCAT) panel noted evidence of the Glenroy-based doctor asking for sex over the phone and via text messages. They also found that he had coached the patient to mislead authorities into believing that she was schizophrenic in order to get a disability pension - despite the lack of presenting evidence on the disease.

In text messages reproduced by VCAT, the patient had enquired about the status of her pension application, to which the doctor had responded with: "But good dr needs good girl to play with”.

He further harassed her with a string of suggestive messages such as: "Do you want to be mine," "U will get u form done perfectly good regardless u answer," "U will get pension for sure," "... I am asking if u want nice guy for casual sex very secretly," and "Doesn't matter my dear... I will use everything to get u pension."

Doctor claims patient as schizophrenic to mislead investigators

When questioned, Dr Alkazali claimed that the patient was having “another psychotic episode” and had in the process edited the text messages.

However according to the patient’s relative, the patient had requested for a medical certificate that would give her a few weeks off work to attend to a personal issue. Alkazali instead encouraged her to apply for the disability support pension.

"Dr Alkazali said that he would have to send the complainant to a psychologist and that she should tell the psychologist that she had schizophrenia, 'just make up anything' as you have to have a disability or you cannot get the pension," the relative said.

When the case was first received, The Medical Board of Australia’s Immediate Action Committee decided no immediate action was needed to protect the public from the doctor. It was only in January 2016 after the case was highlighted to the Medical Board of Australia, that he is facing charges for four counts of professional misconduct by a VCAT panel.

Long history of medical negligence

While working as a GP in Kinglake in 2008, Dr Alkazali faced more than 60 allegations of medical negligence and fraud made by his staff and patients. The cases included diagnosing a teenager with bipolar disorder after a 10-minute consultation and sending a man home despite complaints of chest pain. The man later suffered a heart attack.

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Medical Board of Australia did not comment on the outcome of the Kinglake investigation. But in June 2008, the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria had only suggested some form of mentoring for Dr Alkazali.

According to then member for McEwen, Fran Bailey, the doctor also faced allegations by staff on consistently overbilling Medicare for appointments, over-servicing patients, and using their healthcare cards to buy prescription drugs.

"The medical board has a duty to protect the public, the residents of Kinglake, and it must fulfil its duty now," she said.

His case is set for hearing on 22 February. Dr Alkazali has declined comment. MIMS

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