Orthopaedic surgeon Gary Fettke says his contract negotiations are about patient health and clearing his name, not about money.
The Launceston General Hospital visiting medical officer told The Examiner on Thursday he was prepared to waive an $845,000 request for costs in his proposed contract renewal if two letters, aimed at clearing his name, were provided.
Mr Fettke’s contract expires on March 10, and he is considering his contractual agreement “very carefully”.
“I want my name cleared officially,” he said. “The money has been used for good. We’ve played a role in improving the health of the community because it’s well recognised now that sugar and the amount we’re having is detrimental to our health.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said a three, six or 12-month extension to Mr Fettke’s current contract had been offered.
“I think it takes two to work through these issues and I’m just extending this olive branch because I think that’s what’s sensible,” he said.
“We undertake to give good faith, continued negotiations, but what we can’t obviously do is provide substantial amounts of taxpayer funds for something that occurred through [the] national regulator body, through [Mr Fettke’s] peers.”
Mr Fettke advocates for a low carbohydrate diet, and was officially cautioned by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency in 2016, against giving dietary advice to his patients.
The $845,000 request, as part of his contract negotiations, was for the cost involved with the AHPRA complaint against him, including legal fees.
“We’re prepared to waive that, and we’re willing to sign a liability waiver upon receipt of the letters – we’re not after damages,” he said.
“We’re trying not to make this political. It’s not my fault that an election was called at the time of my contract renewal.”
Mr Fettke’s wife, Belinda, said they wanted an opportunity for AHPRA to reopen the case because “they might not have been given all the right information or the information supplied was vexatious, so they’ve made their ruling on something that was falsified”.
“It’s lifelong and non-appealable so we can’t appeal it, so what we’re trying to say is, it was not the right material - you weren’t given the opportunity to have an unbiased view of what’s happened,” she said.
Mr Fettke said he hoped the situation could be resolved.
“I’d love to stay at the LGH. It’s been part of my life for 25 years - a huge part.”