Reinstated KZN doctor remains in limbo

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Ten months after he was fired from his job, Ngwelezana Hospital’s head of surgery returned to work on Monday of last week, but there was no place for him. Instead, says a Sunday Tribune report, Dr Maheshwar Naidoo’s position had already been filled by another specialist. “The CEO was unavailable this week, and he was supposed to organise everything for my reinstatement. The other staff said they couldn’t do anything until he was back,” said Naidoo.

The report says he was fired last year following a series of complaints against him. He appealed the ruling and was cleared of all 12 charges and instructed to return to work last Monday.

Naidoo said although he was pleased that his name was cleared, his attorney warned him that the battle was far from over. “My legal team had prepared me well. “They told me it was not going to be a walk in the park,” he said.

The report says before he was fired, Naidoo was the head of department: general surgery at Ngwelezana Hospital and responsible for surgical services in the district. Naidoo said he also did most of the oncology surgery cases and his absence meant that those patients now had to be referred to hospitals in Durban. Following his successful appeal, he was granted full reinstatement with 10 months back-pay, as well as a further three months pay for unfair suspension.

However, the report says, returning to work was not a simple matter as Dr George Oosthuizen was permanently appointed to take over from Naidoo before the appeal was finalised. “I’m considering my options. The first week back was very unpleasant. They’ve (DoH) created a problem for themselves. They messed up.” Although he reported for work, Naidoo said he didn’t attend to any patients or perform any operations.

The report says when he was fired, Naidoo was accused of giving medical advice over the telephone to junior staff instead of attending to a case which allegedly led to the death of a patient. In another incident, he was blamed for a botched vascular operation on a man’s leg which was carried out by another doctor and ended in an amputation. He was also accused of employing his wife, Dr Nirvana Panday, although he had recused himself from the interviewing panel.

The report says at the time of publishing, the KZN Health Department had not yet responded to a request for comment.

Sunday Tribune report

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