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Nurse who exposed Jayant Patel seeks compo

By Darren Cartwright
December 16, 2011 2:27PM

WHISTLEBLOWER nurse Toni Hoffman, who exposed killer surgeon Jayant Patel, is seeking $400,000 compensation from Queensland Health for injuries and loss of income.

Ms Hoffman today told AAP the stress of exposing Patel’s malpractice, which led to three manslaughter convictions, had taken a toll on her.

She said she was also denied special leave to attend Patel’s trial.

“Basically, I want Queensland Health to compensate me for the last seven years,” Ms Hoffman told AAP.

“I want to be financially compensated.

“I was on WorkCover for quite a long period of time, and your salary drops and I’ve lost a lot of money.”

Ms Hoffman said she took all her annual leave to attend Patel’s trial in June last year – five years after she exposed the deaths of patients he treated at Bundaberg Hospital.

She wants her leave reinstated so she can take a well-earned rest.

“It was really difficult at the beginning, because Patel still had a lot of support in the hospital, and what I did was against the code of conduct,” Ms Hoffman said.

“It’s just been such a long, hard road … they were my patients that died.”

Ms Hoffman’s lawyers say she has suffered psychologically and financially due to her role in exposing Patel at Bundaberg Hospital, where she still works in the intensive care unit.

The compensation claim was lodged in the District Court this week after talks to settle her claim broke down.

“It is an outrage that Queensland Health did not give her the support she needed to get on with her life and now refuses to acknowledge her latest claim,” Peter Koutsoukis, a senior partner of law firm Maurice Blackburn, said.

“Her claim for $400,000 includes past and future loss of income, medical expenses and loss of superannuation income.”

Premier Anna Bligh said she had personally passed on her thanks to Ms Hoffman for the service she had done to Queensland by blowing the whistle.

She stressed it was the workers compensation board, not Queensland Health, that had assessed a claim by her nurse last year.

“I know that Ms Hoffman has been through a very difficult time, and I have nothing but admiration for her,” Ms Bligh said in Brisbane.

“I know that she has been offered support and counselling if she has any further needs that Queensland Health can help her with. I know that her local director of nursing is only too happy to help.”

Ms Bligh said she would look further into the matter.

No court documents had been served on Queensland Health as of this morning, she said.

“I’d certainly be looking, if there are any court documents served, to see what the basis of any case might be,” she said.

In June 2010, Patel was sentenced to seven years in prison after being found guilty of the manslaughter of three people and grievous bodily harm of one person.

Maurice Blackburn principal Ian Brown has represented 200 of Patel’s former patients before commissions of inquiry and in successful compensation claims against the state.

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