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  • Qld psychologist jailed for Medicare rort

    Author: AAP

A respected Queensland psychologist who used the names of patients' family members to receive almost $110,000 from bogus bulk bill claims has been jailed.

Jeanette Brennan, 66, made 1381 false Medicare claims for more than 18 months up to May 2017 - the bulk of them during a "stressful" period while overseas collecting her premature twins from a surrogate mother.

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The psychologist of more than 20 years' experience made claims from November 2015 for sessions that never occurred, giving details of 245 people including current and former clients as well as people who had never been patients.

The latter were family members of current or ex-clients, with names taken from patients' Medicare cards.

The Brisbane District Court heard on Tuesday that 1223 of the claims were made during a three-month period from December 2015 when Brennan wasn't in the country.


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She had travelled overseas in a "rushed trip" with her husband to collect her twins after the surrogate mother had gone into premature labour, defence barrister Greg McGuire said.

Brennan was charged in early 2018, but continued practising, paying off the dodgy Medicare rebate money totalling $107,270.70.

Chief Judge Brian Devereaux said the hurried overseas trip to collect the premature twins offered "some context" to her offences.

The boys - now aged six - have subsequently been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with one son in particular suffering "significant difficulties".

Brennan is also dealing with health issues including chronic arthritis and respiratory, cardiac and gastro-intestinal difficulties as well as ear, nose and throat problems.

Brennan wept when Chief Judge Brian Devereaux said it was a shame she was now in "disgrace" after overcoming obstacles as a child in Ireland to build a successful practice in Australia.

The court was told Brennan was the main carer for her siblings before marrying young and moving overseas, becoming a single mother to five kids while studying to become a clinical psychologist.

"It is terrible for someone of your age to be in such disgrace after a life so well lived, even in the face of adversity as a youngster," Chief Judge Devereaux said.

He took into account Brennan and her children's health issues but said jail time was appropriate as a "general deterrent".

Chief Judge Devereaux said Brennan had committed a "seriously unprofessional act" while also risking access to Medicare services and rebates for almost 250 "real people" named in the false claims.

"It is not some victimless crime, the whole community suffered," he said.

Brennan was again in tears when she was sentenced to three years in jail, to be released after six months, on one count of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.


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