Orthopedic surgeon Gary Fettke says he won’t return to the public health system until the senior hierarchy of the Department of Health are brought into question.
It comes after Dr Fettke’s name was officially cleared, two years after Australia’s medical watchdog cautioned him against providing nutritional information to patients.
On Friday, Dr Fettke announced that the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency had dropped all “charges” and formally apologised for errors made in dealing with claims against him.
A spokeswoman for the Medical Board of Australia confirmed it had reconsidered its decision to caution Dr Fettke.
“A different state of board of the Medical Board of Australia considered all the information and circumstances that are now known, with additional evidence,” the spokeswoman said.
“The board decided no further regulatory action was needed to protect or manage risk to patients.”
An advocate for a low carbohydrate diet, Dr Fettke was cautioned by the AHPRA in 2016 after an anonymous notifier reported him for recommending patients to reduce their sugar intake.
Dr Fettke said the “common sense” outcome from AHPRA was what he had always hoped for.
“Clearly I am relieved. This has all taken a major professional, personal and financial toll, on myself and my family,” he said.
“This is what we have been fighting for, for a long time. That AHPRA has apologised, it is almost unprecedented.”
Dr Fettke signed a six-month contract with the Launceston General Hospital in March, but said he would take leave without pay until his name was cleared.
With that contract now expired, Dr Fettke said he would not consider returning to the public health system until the senior hierarchy of the Department of Health were brought into question.
“The Tasmanian Health Service would need to do a significant backflip,” he said.
“They have shown their true colours through all of this and it hasn’t been pretty.
“This whole thing has always been way beyond just me.
“It’s about the freedom to promote what we know to be right, to improve patient health without fear of retribution.”
A Tasmania Health Service spokesman said medical professionals were overseen by the AHPRA, which makes its own determinations regarding its investigations.
“What employment a person chooses to pursue isn’t a matter for the Tasmanian Health Service to comment on,” the spokesman said.
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said AHPRA dealt with cases independent of the government.
“We have 26 more doctors at the LGH than in 2014 and Dr Fettke’s excellent work as a surgeon is respected by the government,” he said.
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