20 Mar 2023
The former director of medical services at Bacchus Marsh Hospital (formerly operated by Djerriwarrh Health Services) is unlikely to ever practise medicine again after a tribunal ordered the cancellation of her registration and banned her from reapplying for registration for 10 years.
Trigger warning: Some readers may find this article distressing. If you are experiencing distress and are a registered medical practitioner or medical student, please visit the drs4drs website for support in your state or territory. Any readers can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 for help.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) found Dr Lee Gruner failed to ensure the safe delivery of clinical services during the cluster of stillbirths and newborn deaths at the hospital. The tribunal found three allegations of professional misconduct proven against Dr Gruner, which arise from her time working at the hospital between 2009 and 2015.
The allegations against Dr Gruner were that she:
Dr Gruner had held non-practising registration prior to the Tribunal decision. Aged in her 70s, a decade ban ultimately means she is unlikely to ever practise medicine again.
The decision concludes the final tribunal matter relating to Ahpra and the National Boards’ investigations into practitioners working at the Bacchus Marsh Hospital between October 2011 to February 2013.
On today’s outcome, MBA Chair, Dr Anne Tonkin, said:
‘There’s no excuse for those in clinical leadership roles not knowing what is expected of them. The buck stops with them. We should not need to go through these tragedies to learn these lessons.’
Ahpra CEO, Martin Fletcher, reflecting on the wider Bacchus Mash Hospital baby deaths’ tragedy, said:
‘Our hearts go out to those families who lost babies. It is vital that lessons are learned to improve patient safety to prevent future harm for other families.’
The full decision will be published on the Austlii website when available.
A full background on the investigation and tribunal matters can be found here.