Georgie began the interview by quoting a tweet from Professor Henry Woo, a professor at the University of Sydney, slamming Dr Teo for charging excessive fees to perform brain surgery on cancer patients.
“Something is seriously wrong if a terminally ill girl with a brain tumour has to raise $130,000 to have surgery Dr Charlie Teo has offered to do for $60-80,000.”
Georgie then went on to ask Dr Teo why the particular brain surgery he offered couldn’t be covered by Medicare in public hospitals.
“Let’s get our facts straight first,” Teo shot back.
“The fact is, although some patients do have to pay over $100,000, that doesn’t all go to the surgeon or even the team.
“It is in a private hospital, which is accounting to their shareholders. They have to make a profit.
“So, for example, that $120,000 bill that Henry Woo is talking about, $80,000 goes to the private hospital. $40,000 then gets dispersed among not only the surgeon, the assistant, anaesthetist, pathologist, radiologist, radiographer.
“It is not that great an amount to each individual person, when you get your facts straight …”
Probing further, Gardner asked exactly how much Teo earned personally for the performing surgery.
“I got $8000,” he said. “But it is really not the total amount that each person gets. It is really the fact that people do have to pay for their private healthcare.
“It is a little bit unfair. If I was a child with cancer and in a foreign state who wants the very best care, I think you should be able to be done in the public system.
“But unfortunately if you are done in the public system a few people have swallowed their egos.”
Teo also reasoned that he offers to perform surgery for free for interstate patients on low incomes or who don’t have private health.
“They have two options,” he said. “They come to the private system in NSW and get done privately where they have to pay.
“Or I say to them, ‘Listen, if you can get your neurosurgeon from your state to invite me to your hospital, I will operate free of charge in the public system with benefits not only to you but will benefit hopefully the whole neurosurgical community where they can learn my techniques’. Have I ever been taken off on that offer? Never.
“All they need to do is swallow their ego.”