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ACT cardiologist fails to stop further bullying investigation, sanctions

Dr Muayad Alasady, who was suspended by Canberra Health Services and has taken Federal Court action against the ACT government. Pictures: Rohan Thomson, Dion Georgopoulos

A senior cardiologist suing Canberra Health Services has failed to stop further investigations and sanctions against him after he was stood down over allegations of misconduct and inappropriate behaviour.

Dr Muayad Alasady, an electrophysiologist at Canberra Hospital's cardiology unit since October 2018, was suspended with pay in March after an investigation into the unit's culture.

In December 2021, a preliminary assessment of the unit was commissioned by the health service and conducted by an independent legal team, which produced a report in March.

The report found certain cardiologists were "arrogant, with a sense of entitlement", abused their positions, failed to carry out their full duties and "failed to respect nursing and allied health staff, treating them with disdain and a lack of respect".

Dr Alasady was allegedly observed behaving inappropriately, saying he "didn't give a shit about the pacemaker" for a patient and being absent while another was anaesthetised for 30 minutes.

He describes the allegations against him as "so vague and imprecise".

Dr Alasady, who called the preliminary assessment "fundamentally flawed", filed a lawsuit in late July, suing the ACT government, the health services' chief executive, David Peffer, and the territory's public sector standards commissioner, Ian McPhee, in the Federal Court.

The cardiologist believes he was denied procedural fairness because he was not told about the investigation and was not given the "opportunity to respond to any proposed recommendation" before his suspension.

He claims there is a "clear case of apprehension of bias", and is seeking damages and the revocation of his suspension.

Dr Alasady, whose website states he is also a lecturer at the Australian National University's medical school, also filed on August 1 for an injunction to stop Canberra Health Services from further investigating or sanctioning him until his case is heard.

He took this action because the ACT public sector standards commissioner appointed a law firm in April to further investigate Dr Alasady, who was provided in June with a 37-page document detailing his alleged behaviour.

The cardiologist also received statements made by other doctors and hospital staff, along with emails, minutes of meetings and complaints.

Dr Alasady claimed "there have been various breaches of the applicable enterprise agreements that effectively mean he is immune from being the subject of the current investigation".

On Thursday, the Federal Court dismissed Dr Alasady's application for an injunction.

Justice Elizabeth Raper found Dr Alasady's claim was weak and "the prejudice to [him] is outweighed by the prejudice to the respondents".

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