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Drink driving doctor brings Qld vetting under scutiny

Contributed

A HERVEY Bay maternity doctor named and shamed as a drunk driver appears to have been hired by Queensland Health despite previous convictions.

Dr Gabrielle Buckley started work at Hervey Bay Hospital last September and since then has been convicted three times for disqualified driving, and once for drink driving.

The drink driving episode aired on A Current Affair on Wednesday night after a television reporter she collided with filmed the incident.

Dr Buckley is now serving a suspended jail sentence and Queensland Health is investigating whether she should still be delivering the region's newborns.

Her court history, however, indicates her problems started before she moved to the state.

Her first appearance here, in October last year for disqualified driving, related to the breach of a New South Wales court order.

Police could not tell the Chronicle what those convictions involved.

And answers provided by Queensland Health to questions over her previous criminal history also did not clear up what charges had resulted in her being disqualified in NSW, or what they knew about her past before hiring her.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Adrian Pennington said all candidates underwent independent criminal history checks and "at the time of her appointment, there were no existing matters that are core to Dr Buckley's role that would have resulted in her being denied appointment due to the criminal history check outcome".

Asked whether Buckley had at any time been counselled over her drinking habits, Mr Pennington said she had "displayed no behaviours that the WBHHS is aware of that would lead one to consider (she) required counselling".

Her offending peaked with a crash on the Bruce Hwy in February where, according to court documents, witnesses had to strip her of her keys to prevent her from leaving the scene.

When police arrived at the scene Buckley "dug her heels in and refused to move", continuing to struggle with officers until she was taken to the station with a blood alcohol reading of .193.

While no one was harmed, footage of the incident was captured by a Channel 9 reporter who was a passenger in the damaged car.

But Buckley's troubles didn't end there.

With the drink driving and two disqualified driving charges hanging over her head, she got behind the wheel once again, venturing back onto the Bruce Hwy where she was arrested near Gympie on April 4.

Appearing in the Hervey Bay court during a Children's Court call over last Friday, Buckley was given a wholly suspended five-month jail sentence, fined $2,000 and banned from driving for at least six years.

A request to interview the doctor was denied on the grounds investigations into her role at the hospital were continuing.

Mr Pennington said as Dr Buckley was a first year doctor, she was "closely supervised at all times with consultants and senior medical officers being responsible at all times for the patient's care" and decisions about her future employment would be "based on facts as uncovered and in line with ensuring the safe provision of clinical care".

Topics:  drink driving, editors picks, qld health




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