Australia

Watchdog probe over Rabbitohs club doctor allegations

The New South Wales medical watchdog has launched a formal probe over allegations levelled against Rabbitohs club doctor Andrew McDonald.The Health Care Complaints Commission confirmed it had started formal inquiries after receiving a complaint in the wake of the allegations against ex-NRL player Sam Burgess.A report published by The Australian last week contained serious allegations…

The New South Wales medical watchdog has launched a formal probe over allegations levelled against Rabbitohs club doctor Andrew McDonald.

The Health Care Complaints Commission confirmed it had started formal inquiries after receiving a complaint in the wake of the allegations against ex-NRL player Sam Burgess.

A report published by The Australian last week contained serious allegations of drug use and domestic violence against the former South Sydney Rabbitohs star, which he denies.

Dr McDonald was accused in the article of allegedly treating Burgess during a drug-fuelled episode in 2018 by injecting him with liquid tranquilliser.

It was also claimed Dr McDonald obtained the tranquilliser through a prescription allegedly written in the name of Burgess’s father-in-law Mitchell Hooke.

The complaint was initiated by HCCC Commissioner Sue Dawson after conducting initial inquires into the allegations.

“In response to media reports and other information, the Health Care Complaints Commissioner has established a complaint which will enable it to examine all of the allegations raised and the role and actions of any health service providers who may be involved,” a spokeswoman said in a statement provided to NCA NewsWire.

“In pursuing these matters, the Commission is working closely with the NSW Police and other regulatory bodies.

“To preserve the integrity of the Commission’s own complaint assessment processes and the processes of NSW Police, the Commission is unable to disclose further specific details at this time.”

The HCCC will also investigate the role of a GP who was left unnamed in The Australian’s article.

The Medical Board of NSW will determine whether Dr McDonald will be suspended or will need to practise under supervision while the HCCC investigation takes place.

There is now a 60-day window for the HCCC to assess the complaint to decide what further action, if any, will be taken.

Burgess’s lawyer explosively claimed in court on Wednesday that his estranged wife Phoebe and father-in-law Mr Hooke were acting out of “malice or retaliation” when they levelled domestic violence and drug allegations against him.

Solicitor Bryan Wrench said Burgess had been caught off guard by the accusations contained in a 50-page statement to police by his wife.

He said the allegations published in The Australian were “orchestrated propaganda” and appeared to be “born out of malice or retaliation”.

“The allegations are categorically denied,” Mr Wrench said on Wednesday.

The Australian reports Ms Burgess’s statement to police alleged she drove her husband to an underground carpark at Souths Juniors club in Kingsford in Sydney’s southeast on November 7, 2018, which was the morning after a major drug bender.

She alleged he had blood and urine samples taken that would be filed under the alias Ben Smith.

NSW Police and the NRL integrity unit are also investigating the allegations against Burgess.

Burgess has also stood down from his position on the Rabbitohs’ coaching staff and at Fox Sports.

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