ACC adviser's shaky past?

By Joanne Carroll

Photo / Alan Gibson
Photo / Alan Gibson

The medical adviser for the ACC sensitive claims unit has been embroiled in controversy with two previous employers.

Dr Peter Dodwell fought the results of a report into the Civil Aviation Authority; and he was reportedly sacked from a job in Australia four years ago.

The Scott-Gorman report into medical certificates for pilots alleged the process for appointing doctors, supervised by Dodwell, had been "flawed from the outset".

Dodwell, the principal medical officer for the Civil Aviation Authority until 1998, sought a judicial review against the CAA for failing to give him an opportunity to respond to the report. He had left the role when the report came out, but was still contracting some work to the CAA.

CAA director John Jones later apologised to Dodwell as part of an out-of-court settlement.

The ACC sensitive-claims unit has been part of a scandal involving thousands of claimants' details being mistakenly released to another claimant by email.

Dodwell went on to work in health in NSW, but was reportedly sacked in 2008.

This week, blogger Kyle MacDonald was forced to edit a post which contained information about Dodwell's employment history after legal threats.

MacDonald said the post was changed after legal counsel for Dodwell expressed concerns about the impact of the post on his ongoing professional reputation.

The blog had posted a link and comment from a Sydney Morning Herald article about Dodwell's departure from Healthquest.

Dodwell was sacked for communicating inappropriately with the Education Board about a teacher it intended to employ.

An investigation by the former NSW Police deputy police commissioner David Madden found Dodwell inappropriately passed on information regarding the teacher - who had been found fit for duty by HealthQuest in 2006 - to the Education Department in an attempt to adversely influence its decision to employ her.

Madden found two of the five allegations made by the teacher against Dodwell were substantiated. An independent review by former magistrate John Heagney supported the Madden findings.

The teacher was medically retired after being declared unfit for duty, a decision overturned by the Medical Appeals Panel five months later.

Madden said the teacher had had no opportunity to defend herself against Dodwell's claims and he should be disciplined for breaching privacy restrictions.

To date he he has not been the subject of any tribunal proceedings in Australia.

Minister for ACC Judith Collins refused to comment on Dodwell's appointment, saying employment matters were the responsibility of ACC. Spokes-woman Stephanie Melville declined to answer questions about whether ACC was aware of the previous controversies before employing Dodwell.

Dr Dodwell commented that there is more than one side to the Healthquest story.

Correction:

In an article on April 15, we said Dr Peter Dodwell had resigned as Principal Medical Officer for the Civil Aviation Authority after an adverse 2001 report. However, he had resigned the position in 1998. Furthermore, the report had not made any allegations about Dr Dodwell's work at any time involving "an unacceptably high error rate". In 2002 Dr Dodwell won an out of court settlement over his lack of consultation over the report. The Herald on Sunday apologises for these errors and accepts unreservedly that Dr Dodwell was not accused of such errors and did not resign because of the findings of the 2001 report.

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