THE receptionist at Newcastle’s Ubuntu centre was apologetic.
“He’s a busy doctor and he doesn’t always answer,” she said after supplying a mobile phone number for Andrew Katelaris, who was deregistered in 2005 for using and prescribing cannabis to patients, and later convicted of growing cannabis plants near Dungog.
Dr Katelaris has a doctorate in medicine – a PhD – from the University of NSW that he relies on to continue calling himself a doctor, despite being deregistered as a physician more than 11 years ago.
“It’s not an attempt to pretend I’m a registered doctor,” he said in a call on Wednesday, when I put to him that a person phoning his Newcastle centre, and being told “He’s a busy doctor”, might be left with the impression he was a registered doctor in good standing with health authorities.
You can check on these things, of course, although that will only take you so far.
Type “Katelaris” into the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and six names appear as registered health professionals, none Andrew John Katelaris.
Do the same for cancelled health professionals and Katelaris doesn’t come up, and it’s the same if you type “Katelaris” into the field for “practitioners who have given an undertaking not to practise”.
AHPRA advises you should give it a call if you come up a blank and want to know why Andrew John Katelaris doesn’t appear to be a registered health professional. It also advises you to go to AustLII – the Australasian Legal Information Institute – where you can search for court or tribunal cases involving Dr Katelaris, although not all.
You won’t find the 2005 Medical Board decision that led to Dr Katelaris’s deregistration if you check on AustLII, which makes the AHPRA referral of limited assistance if you’re a patient trying to assess someone offering to treat you. That’s if you’re even aware AHPRA exists at all, despite the millions and millions of dollars spent establishing and running it since 2010.
During the phone call on Wednesday Dr Katelaris referred to the Medical Board – now the Medical Council – as “a bunch of f...wits”.
He was similarly scathing – and highly defamatory – when describing a judge, now dead, in a contempt of court case that didn’t go Dr Katelaris’s way a few years ago.
The Health Care Complaints Commission was a “pharmacofascist” institution, according to Dr Katelaris, and another institution was described as “fascist scum”.
He argues he is a campaigner for progress in his chosen field of cannabis to treat conditions including cancer, and that health authorities who have acted over a number of years to stop him are “retarding progress”.
But you only need to read the HCCC’s report on his injection of cannabis oil into two women, both aged 56 and with ovarian cancer, in September, 2015, to see why it ruled in October that “Andrew Katelaris is permanently prohibited from supplying or administering cannabis or any of its derivatives to any person for the treatment, or purported treatment, of cancer”.
The report is available on the HCCC’s website, if you type “Katelaris” into the search field. I suggest you read it before accepting a line that this is a case of “the system” stopping a man who’s ahead of his time on the issue of cannabis.
Dr Katelaris said his treatment of the two women “wasn’t a cavalier action by someone who wants personal glory”.
But it was the action of a man who thinks he’s above the rules that apply to others.