A Melbourne doctor whose surgery was ‘raided’ by the Department of Health last week has said his patients’ private medical records were seized ‘without a warrant.’
Seven authorised officers entered Dr Mark Hobart’s practice in Sunshine, Victoria on Wednesday, November 10, before confiscating confidential patient files and various other documents.
The incident, which Dr Hobart described as an “intimidating experience,” was captured on video and shared across social media.
Health authorities were said to have told Dr Hobart they would issue him with an itemised list of documents seized, however, the doctor said at the time they refused to disclose which patient records were taken.
Dr Hobart said he’s deeply concerned for the privacy, health, and safety of his patients, as the records contain highly confidential information, including medical issues and the treatments they’re receiving.
“My patients have a right to have their medical records kept strictly private and confidential. Those records are their private property,” he said.
According to Rebel News, “Dr Hobart was also issued with a prohibition notice and told to cease trading, meaning he is only allowed to speak with patients over the phone. He can no longer treat patients in the surgery or earn an income from his work.”
A GoFundMe page was soon after established by a colleague of Dr Hobart’s with the intention of assisting him “while his practice is closed down and to seek legal advice and action.”
However, less than 24-hours after the campaign was launched, the platform removed the account, citing “Prohibited Conduct.” GoFundMe then refunded more than $4,000 in donations to Dr Hobart’s supporters.
A second campaign, titled ‘Keep patient medical files confidential,’ was later launched on the Christian crowdfunding website, Give Send Go.
“What the Victorian Department of Health has done is outrageous,” Dr Hobart said. “As far as I’m aware, this has never happened before in Victoria. It’s the sort of behaviour which would only occur in a dictatorship. Yet it’s happening here in Victoria right under our noses.
“All Victorians should be outraged that their medical records can be seized by the Victorian Government without a valid search warrant,” he added.
Dr Hobart announced on Sunday that he has commenced urgent legal proceedings against the Victorian Department of Health to prevent them from sharing the files with other government departments or patients’ employers.
In a video posted to Twitter, Dr Hobart said:
“My surgery was raided by the Department of Health without a warrant, and some of my patient files and documents were illegally seized. I am suing the department to stop them from sharing those files with any other government departments or with my patients’ employers. Those records are private medical records of my patients, and they need to stay that way. No government should seize medical records unlawfully. I am also asking the court to order the department to return those records to me. As a separate matter, I am defending my right to continue working as a doctor.”
Dr Hobart has been a vocal critic of the Australian and Victorian Governments’ handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a letter attached to his Give Send Go campaign, Dr Hobart explains:
“I’ve been concerned about: 1. The welfare of the elderly during the Covid-19 pandemic; 2. The information which has been disclosed by government about Covid-19 and the available preventions and treatments, and; 3. The reliance by the Victorian Government on lockdowns to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Dr Hobart said he’s been targeted by the state government and the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (Ahpra) over his criticism.
“It will not be easy to fight the Victorian Government to recover my patient records and protect our liberty,” he said.
“I expect that it will be a long, difficult and expensive fight. However, I will not back down with your kind and generous support. Together we will fight the Victorian Government in the Courts to get the right outcome, we will never surrender.”
Dr Hobart’s campaign can be viewed here.