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Whistleblower appears at Patel hearing -

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Reporter: Annie Guest

ELEANOR HALL: Back home now to a court case in Queensland. And the nurse who raised the alarm about
a surgeon at Bundaberg Hospital has taken the stand at the committal hearing for Jayant Patel
today.

Toni Hoffman was the former nurse manager of the intensive care unit and her testimony was expected
to last all day.

Instead it was over in about 20 minutes.

Annie Guest is at the court in Brisbane and she joins us now.

So Annie, Toni Hoffman's testimony was expected to be a significant part of proceedings. Why was it
over so quickly?

ANNIE GUEST: Eleanor, this is becoming a familiar pattern in this committal hearing. It follows
earlier changes to arrangements. Such as 150 witnesses being expected to appear and that number
being cut by half.

Today the DPPs David Meredith told the magistrate he was embarrassed that Toni Hoffman's testimony
was so short. The former nurse unit manager of the intensive care unit at Bundaberg Hospital had
been closely; she has been closely identified with the Patel case since blowing the whistle with
her concerns back in 2005.

The prosecutor said her original statement was over 200 paragraphs but large parts of that weren't
admitted into evidence today and therefore she wasn't cross-examined on in because they weren't
directly relevant to the 14 charges against Patel.

Now these charges were laid last year before he was extradited from the US, so it is not clear why
the committal hearing wasn't earlier tailored to that.

ELEANOR HALL: So what did Toni Hoffman then say in her evidence today?

ANNIE GUEST: She was cross-examined in relation to James Phillips, a patient who died in intensive
care after Patel performed an oesophagectomy on him in 2003. It is alleged it was an inappropriate
operation to do at that hospital and that Patel couldn't find the source of the patient's bleeding
after the operation.

Toni Hoffman said that when the anaesthetist handed the patient over, James Phillips over to ICU
(intensive care unit), the anaesthetist said, 'it is an expensive way to die.' Hoffman was also
quizzed by the defence about her recollection of events because she's made an error, she had made
an error in her original police statement back in 2005. So the defence asked if she could be
properly relied on to recall other facts.

And she was also quizzed about whether she had gone behind Patel's back in telling a family that a
patient was brain dead; that is, James Phillips was brain dead and she said no. She felt that they
weren't aware and that they should be informed.

And asked whether Patel wasn't in fact aware of that himself, she'd said, well, he would have to
have been blind to not realise how unwell James Phillips was.

ELEANOR HALL: Now given her truncated testimony, did other witnesses take the stand today?

ANNIE GUEST: Yes Eleanor. The senior nurse in the renal unit handling dialysis for patients took
the stand and she said that she went to the hospital executive and asked that Patel no longer be
allowed to perform a certain surgery to install catheters for dialysis because of all his fixed
patients that he had inserted these catheters on, all six had become infected.

ELEANOR HALL: Annie Guest at the court in Brisbane, thank you.