Longer wait for Rao

Southern Riverina news - - News -

TOCUMWAL’S Dr Balaji Rao will have to wait al­most two more weeks to hear the NSW Coro­ner’s find­ings on the in­quest into the deaths of two of his pa­tients.

NSW Coro­ner Mary Jer­ram was ex­pected to give her de­ci­sion on Fri­day, but in­stead de­ferred un­til July 14.

This is the lat­est in a lengthy legal process that be­gan in 2007.

Dr Rao, 73, is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated over the 2005 and 2007 deaths of Tocumwal Hos­pi­tal pa­tients Ralph Gren­fell and Bob Cool­ing.

The in­quest has pre­vi­ously heard that Dr Rao had pre­scribed both Mr Gren­fell and Mr Cool­ing neu­ro­mus­cu­lar block­ing agents with­out ap­pro­pri­ate ven­ti­la­tor sup­port, and that the drugs were not known for their use in pal­lia­tive care.

The Depart­ment of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions has de­cided that there are no grounds for charges over the deaths, and Ms Jer­ram said the in­quest will re­sume.

She also re­cently re­jected a sub­mis­sion by Dr Rao’s so­lic­i­tors to re­cuse her­self and her se­nior Coun­sel As­sist­ing on the grounds of ap­par­ent bias.

In her re­sponse to Dr Rao’s so­lici- tors, Tay­lor & Whitty, Ms Jer­ram said the ev­i­dence in the re­quest to re­move her se­nior Coun­sel As­sist­ing was ‘‘frankly ab­surd’’.

She did, how­ever, rule that Dr Rao would not be com­pelled to give ev­i­dence and ac­knowl­edged the Gren­fell and Cool­ing fam­i­lies’ wishes that the in­quest cease.

She also ac­knowl­edged the pres­sure the lengthy process had placed on Dr Rao.

‘‘I ac­cept too that he (Dr Rao) has un­der­gone the strain of lengthy pro­ceed­ings in which he may have in­curred in­di­rectly at least, some crit­i­cism,’’ she said.

‘‘He is an el­derly man, and it was never the in­ten­tion of this court to ha­rass or hound him.’’

The in­quest will con­tinue on July 14 at the Glebe Coro­ner’s Court.

Dr Rao has had the sup­port of both the Gren­fell and Cool­ing fam­i­lies and the Tocumwal com­mu­nity through­out the process.

Dr Rao, who was dereg­is­tered for at least a year in June 2010, said re­cently that he would await Ms Jer­ram’s de­ci­sion be­fore ap­ply­ing for a re­view of the dereg­is­tra­tion of his med­i­cal li­cence.

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