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More Sydney hospitals in chemo failures

AAP logoAAP 1/08/2016 By Frances Mao

All cancer patients treated at NSW public hospitals in the past five years will have their cases reviewed amid revelations that more than 130 people received incorrect chemotherapy doses.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner on Tuesday revealed two more Sydney hospitals had been caught up in a scandal involving the under-dosing of chemotherapy patients.

The shock revelation came as NSW Health published a final report into the dosing scandal at St Vincent's Hospital, which found more than 100 head and neck cancer patients were given incorrect doses of chemotherapy drugs by senior oncologist Dr John Grygiel.

A haematologist who worked at St George and Sutherland hospitals in Sydney's south is now also believed to have mistreated his cancer patients for as long as 13 years by prescribing inappropriate doses of cancer drugs, Ms Skinner said.

Dr Kiran Phadke, who was working until April, gave lower-than-recommended doses of chemotherapy drugs to his patients, affecting at least three of them.

Two of his patients are now dead while investigations are continuing into 14 other cases.

The mistreatment was discovered after a nurse reported his under-dosing to authorities in April, following revelations of the scandal at St Vincent's Hospital.

Ms Skinner has ordered a review of all case files of public hospital cancer patients who received treatment over the past five years.

Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital © Provided by AAP Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital

She expressed regret for the affected patients and slammed St Vincent's for its "really problematic" initial response to the dosing scandal.

"The hospital lied to the public, yes, no question of that," she said, while dodging questions about calls for her sacking.

Her department's final report into the mistreatment at St Vincent's found Dr Grygiel gave 129 cancer patients incorrect does of chemotherapy treatment, and that the hospital had a culture of conflict and mistrust in the oncology department.

It's understood Dr Grygiel mistreated 103 head and neck cancer patients.

Other names are expected to be added to the victims list when a report into his time at Bathurst and Orange Hospitals is released in September.

The NSW Health report, led by Cancer Institute NSW boss Professor David Currow, found that 37 of Dr Grygiel's patients had since died - five from non-cancer causes and four from an unspecified cause of death.

But the report said it wasn't feasible to conclude whether the deaths or current survival rates of affected patients could be linked to the dosage mistreatment.

Dr Grygiel is understood to have given his head and neck cancer patients a flat 100mg dose of carboplatin because he believed they were too frail and weak.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley attacked Ms Skinner's handling of the scandal and said he fears more hospitals could be involved.

"There's been a culture of cover up and protection for hospital administrators rather than a fierce desire from the minister to fight for patients' safety and health," he said while calling for the minister's sacking.

Ms Skinner denied that the state's healthcare system was failing patients, and said new systems were being rolled out to track patients' treatment.

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