The cardiologist was the subject of an investigation for maladministration of an indigenous health program.  The matter was investigated by health service investigators and a report dated 17 August 2018 set out their findings, analysis and relevant enquires undertaken (the Report). In short, the Report insinuated that the doctor had engaged in corrupt conduct through an omission in governance. As a result of the Report findings, a decision was made to suspend the doctor.

The doctor sought judicial review of both the Report and the decision of the Health Service Chief Executive, that he was liable to discipline and to suspend him from duty.  

The doctor’s case in respect of the Report was that it was deeply flawed, liable to be set aside on judicial review grounds and the product of a denial of natural justice which led to findings and observations about him which were highly damaging to his personal and professional reputation.  Further, the Report was an essential precondition to the Health Service taking action against him.

The Respondents applied for the proceedings to be dismissed.  The First and Second Respondents on the grounds that none of the purported decisions (ie- that the Applicant was liable to discipline and/or to suspend him from duty) were ‘decisions’ for the purpose of the Judicial Review Act 1991 (Qld) (JRA).  The Third and Fourth Respondents applied on the grounds that there was no reasonable basis for the application against them and it would be inappropriate for it to be continued.  Essentially, the Report was not a ‘decision’ to which the JRA applied and the Report was not a condition precedent to a final determination which affected the doctor’s legal rights.

The doctor was successful in his application.  The Supreme Court of Queensland held that the Report was amenable to judicial review.  It was a substantive determination of the matters about which it was required to report and was final and operative.   The doctor was justified in submitting that the Report was a ‘foundational consideration’ for the action taken by the Health Service.   The making of the Report exposed the doctor to adverse action and thereby affected his legal rights. 

To read the full decision in Walters v Drummond [2019] QSC 97, click here.