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A CITY doctor who has repeatedly been found guilty of misdemeanours throughout his 30 year international career returned to Cape Town yesterday after allegedly faking his credentials to get a job on a cruise liner.
The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) yesterday confirmed to the Cape Times that Paul Fitzgerald is under investigation, has previously been found guilty of six offences in SA, but is still allowed to practise in the country.
Fitzgerald, who is believed to be in his 60s and who changed his name from Maurice Saadien-Raad, has worked in the UK, where his medical licence was suspended last year. He also practised in Australia, where according to The Telegraph he left after a month in 2001 because of concerns about his competence.
Yesterday, Gordon Leighton, a cruise line recruiter, said Fitzgerald had most recently been in Miami for work.
In a statement Leighton prepared about the matter, he said in October last year Fitzgerald had applied for a medical job with Carnival Cruise Lines USA.
He said in December during an assessment interview in Cape Town, Fitzgerald had stated he had already worked for the company, 12 years ago.
Leighton said earlier this month Fitzgerald was sent to Miami for the job, but the company could not find his details on its archives.
This aroused employers’ suspicions and they started probing Fitzgerald.
“They found that he had fraudulently created his own references,” Leighton said.
Employers had then also discovered his previous offences.
“Carnival Cruise lines immediately terminated his services, placed him under guard and had him flown back via Mexico to Cape Town,” Leighton said.
Yesterday after walking through the arrival gates at Cape Town International Airport, Fitzgerald appeared flustered when approached by the Cape Times.
Asked if he had been in Miami and had been accused of falsifying his credentials, Fitzgerald said he would “talk about it later”.
He confirmed he had previously worked in the UK.
Last year the UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) suspended Fitzgerald’s licence.
A document on the GMC website detailed how while working in the UK in the early to mid-2000s, he had misrepresented his qualifications, made inappropriate remarks to a patient and prescribed excessive medication to another patient. It also said he had borrowed £50 000 from a “Mr S”, who was grieving after the death of his mother and being treated for psychiatric problems.
“The panel has found that (Fitzgerald) threatened to kill Mr S on more than one occasion,” the document said.
Yesterday Buyiswa Mjamba-Matshoba, the HPCSA’s chief executive officer and registrar, said Fitzgerald was under investigation for matters relating to his conduct while practising in the UK.
“The HPCSA is in contact with our sister bodies worldwide and all the necessary information on the matter has been exchanged,” she said.
Mjamba-Matshoba said in:
l 1982 Fitzgerald was suspended for three months from the medical practitioners’ register for a matter relating to accounts;
l 1984 he was suspended for three months for “inappropriate prescription of medicine and non-referral to a specialist after patient’s condition deteriorated”;
l 1990 he was removed from the medical practitioners’ register and suspended for five years on condition that he was not found guilty of disgraceful conduct during the five years;
l 2003 he paid a R5 000 admission of guilt fine for an accounts-related matter;
l 2006 he paid a R10 000 admission of guilt fine, which was conditionally suspended for three years, for fraudulent and/or incorrect medical aid claims; and
l 2008 he was fined R1 000 for a minor offence.
Mjamba-Matshoba said Fitzgerald was registered with the HPCSA, but the council was worried about his conduct.