A petition to allow well-known neurosurgeon Charlie Teo to perform high-risk procedures in public hospitals across Australia attracted almost 30,000 signatures in 24 hours.
Last night 29,426 people had signed a petition to WA Health Minister Roger Cook, Premier Mark McGowan, Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt and the prime minister.
The digital document calls for Dr Teo to be given leave to operate on patients at public hospitals throughout Australia, potentially saving people thousands in medical costs.
“Dr Charlie Teo is a medical genius, yet he is vilified by his peers in Australia. At present he has not been invited to operate in any public hospitals … so those that need his expertise have to pay to go into a private hospital,” Canning Vale’s Val Gilbert said.
It comes after Dr Teo claimed he had been offering to operate on sick WA kids for free “for 20 years now” – a pledge he renewed on Sunday.
WA Health Minister Roger Cook yesterday said he was not sure what the neurosurgeon was proposing. “I must say the first time I was aware of Dr Teo was when he was on reality TV”. “We have some outstanding neurosurgeons in WA, but where it’s believed to be in the best interest of the patients, we transfer those patients to the east coast,” he said.
Mr Cook would not say whether surgical expertise was being sought within WA before the call to transfer a patient interstate was made, but refuted claims by prominent Perth neurosurgeon Stephen Lewis who says WA’s healthcare system is failing to inform patients of local surgeons.
“This isn’t a question of egos, it’s not a question of surgeons fighting with each other, there’s clearly some conflict with Dr Teo and the College of Surgeons, I’ll leave that up to them to sort out,” Mr Cook said.
Dr Teo grabbed headlines nationwide after one of his terminally ill patients, Perth girl Amelia “Milli” Lucas, captured hearts around the globe, with more than 200,000 people donating $160,000 towards her medical bills, accommodation and flight costs.
But not all were as impressed with the bid to extend Milli’s life, with doubters questioning the legitimacy of the dangerous surgery based on its cost.
Sydney professor Henry Woo last month condemned the thousands of dollars more than 100 people were raising through crowdfunding to foot the surgeon’s bill, calling the trend “disturbing”.