Toni Hoffman talks to the media at Bundaberg Courthouse after Patel's sentence was delivered.
Toni Hoffman talks to the media at Bundaberg Courthouse after Patel's sentence was delivered. Max Fleet

Patients' relief as Patel jailed

THE tension of the Bundaberg Court viewing room was cut by relief, resignation and, for some, dejection as Justice John Byrne read out his sentence yesterday.

Many patients were in a state of shock as they wandered out of the court into the throng of waiting media.

“It’s over,” former patient Linda Parsons said.

“I can go and get my life back now.”

Ms Parsons said she felt “exhausted and overwhelmed” by the five-year ordeal.

“I wasn’t interested in how long he got,” she said.

“All I wanted was a guilty verdict.”

Ms Parsons said she was relieved she could now move on.

“I just wish I wasn’t going to keep getting sick because of it,” she said.

“I have all I need now, though. I have friends and family and support and justice. I hope the town of Bundaberg gets their closure now and they can start to heal.”

Patient Geoffrey Smith agreed that the sentence was not important, it was the verdict.

“It was more than I thought he would get,” Mr Smith said.

“It doesn’t matter how long he was sentenced for. The point of the matter is will he learn from it?”

Mr Smith said yesterday had been a long time coming.

“I can put it right behind me now,” he said.

“It’s over after such a long wait.”

Grievous bodily harm victim Ian Vowles said while he would have liked to see the surgeon “put away for life”, he would be moving on.

“I’m glad it’s all over,” he said.

“We just have to make the best of what we’ve got and keep on going.”

Like Mr Vowles, whistle blower Toni Hoffman said she just wanted to move on with the rest of her life.

“I think the comments made by the Justice were fair and they certainly reflect the thoughts of the staff at the hospital,” she said.

But not all of Patel’s former patients were pleased with the decision.

Bundaberg-Burnett Patient Support Group member Doris Hillier said she thought he should have received longer for each charge.

“We’ve got all those families who have been through this trauma and those lives he damaged and that was all he got,” she said.

Ms Hillier said the thoughts of an appeal made her sick to the stomach.

“It would be a black day for Queensland Health if an appeal was upheld,” she said.

She said she would keep a close eye on Patel’s future trial for grievous bodily harm and eight counts of fraud.




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