Michael Hornby encouraging drivers to be less selfish on the road on Fatality Free Friday.
Michael Hornby encouraging drivers to be less selfish on the road on Fatality Free Friday.

Restrictions placed on dex doctor

A SUNSHINE Coast psychiatrist whose prescribing practices for the drug dexamphetamine have been the subject of complaints by colleagues and nurses for many years, has had severe restrictions placed on his right to practise.

The Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority has placed 18 conditions on Dr Phillip Bird of the Gosforth Clinic in Maroochydore who was treating Anthony Thomson at the time his vehicle ploughed into a car carrying the Hornby twins - five-year-olds Jessica and Grace - on May 8, 2009, killing them, their grandmother Denise Mansell and himself.

Thomson was found to have had 10 times the prescribed dose of dexamphetamine in his system at the time.

The twins' father, Michael Hornby, said yesterday that they and their grandmother might be alive today if authorities had listened to complaints about Dr Bird's prescribing habits when they were first made.

Mr Hornby has campaigned to restrict prescription levels for dexamphetamine and made a series of complaints to regulatory authorities and the Queensland Government.


Jessica and Grace Hornby
Jessica and Grace Hornby Contributed

This month, after complaints from doctors and nurses, the Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority finally acted, placing significant conditions on Dr Bird's right to practise.

Two nurses sacked after repeatedly raising concerns about Dr Bird and another psychiatrist, Dr Zoran Radovic, who both worked in the mental health unit at The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital, will go to court in September in a bid to regain their employment.

Hospital manager Terence Seymour previously stated that action taken against the nurses related to their behaviour at work which breached the code of conduct and the hospital's values.

Dr Radovic, who had worked at the hospital under special licence since 2003, was let go in December 2011 after repeatedly failing the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists' exemption candidate examinations.

Mr Hornby praised the persistence of the nurses saying "who knows what my family's situation would be now if their com-plaints had been listened to".

The Australian Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority defines "conditions" as restrictions on a "practitioner's practice in some way to protect the public".


Those imposed on Dr Bird include that he not self-prescribe, that he obtain a second opinion with respect to all patients prescribed in excess of 40mg a day of dexamphetamine and in excess of 80mg of methylphenidate and for all patients who suffer with ADHD and from eating disorders and significant substance use and psychotic disorders.

He is further required to maintain a series of registers chronicling his treatment regimes and patient outcomes from all places where he practises.

The authority has also moved to limit Dr Bird's research into ADHD treatment, requiring that it only be conducted in circumstances when he has first obtained written approval of the NHMRC-accredited Human Research Ethics Committee.

Mr Hornby said he had no regrets about making complaints about Dr Bird's treatment methods.

"The conditions that are now there show that what he has been doing isn't right and hasn't been right for a long time," he said.

"I am grateful to the nurses and doctors who since the inquest (into his daughters' deaths) have come forward and stood up and persevered.

"The nurses have been put through the wringer because the system wouldn't recognise their complaints."