Hungarian neurosurgeon’s application to work in Dunedin rejected by New Zealand medical authorities
Britain’s leading neurosurgeons, including the president of the British Neurosurgical Society, are baffled. New Zealand medical authorities have refused to register a former colleague to work at Dunedin Hospital.
Lucas Rakasz worked in several leading English hospitals, helped train neurosurgeons and volunteered to help in Covid-19 wards at the height of the first wave of the pandemic.
However, much of his training for the surgical specialty was received in his native Hungary and, despite being deemed qualified to operate in Britain, Dr Rakasz was turned down by the New Zealand Medical Council in his attempt to become a specialist neurosurgeon in Dunedin.
“I want to make a contribution as a permanent resident of this country. I don’t consider myself a guest,” he said.
“I don’t think I’m getting a fair and transparent decision here… If no one is appointed as a neurosurgeon here, the service is going to die.”
The panel convened by the board initially decided that Dr Rakasz’s experience was not “equivalent or as satisfactory as a New Zealand-trained doctor” and rejected his application.
Dr Rakasz, who on a previous stay in New Zealand worked at Waikato Hospital, is registered as a general practitioner in that country and capable of working at that level of the profession.
The medical board’s stance stunned two UK surgeons who provided glowing credentials recommending Dr Rakasz.
“I don’t know the reasons for the refusal to acknowledge his training,” Colin Watts, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Birmingham, told the Otago Daily Times.
“He was employed by the UK’s National Health Service and therefore had to meet criteria. His training in Hungarian did not seem to be an issue.”
Alistair Jenkins, Consultant Neurosurgeon at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, is the President of the British Neurosurgical Society, and also one of Dr Rakasz’s trainers.
“He had top-level support from some of the most distinguished surgeons in the largest units in the country, and the level and breadth of his training is beyond reproach,” Jenkins said.
“I am well aware of the small island exceptionalism that makes New Zealand feel that training, or indeed anything else, must be inferior.
“It’s an arrogant mindset that hampers progress and globalization and, in this case, common humanity.”
Medical board chairman Curtis Walker said while the case was in court, he was limited in what he could say about the case.
“The board said it was prepared to reconsider whether Dr Rakasz [training] is comparable.
“The Board reversed its decision to decline his candidacy and offered to convene an entirely new panel to consider the matter again, including a new interview with Dr Rakasz.
“Dr. Rakasz did not accept counsel’s offer to do so and decided to pursue his appeal in court.”
The southern neurosurgery department is supposed to have three neurosurgeons, but it never had a full complement of doctors.
For the past three years, only one neurosurgeon, Ahmed Taha, has worked in Dunedin, and doctors in Christchurch have had to treat patients if he was sick or on leave.
Dr Rakasz, whose family moved with him to New Zealand, is now resigned to having to leave the country to find specialist work in his chosen field, but said he was pursuing his case on behalf of other foreign-trained physicians in similar situations. straits.
“I have a deep sense of injustice…I became a doctor because I believe I was placed here to help people and my patients and the people of Dunedin deserve this service.
“They don’t deserve to have to fly to Christchurch for treatment.
“I believe people here need a good, stable service with well-trained surgeons to look after them, and having been trained in different systems, I think I can help improve things here.”