A doctor who blew the whistle about the medical neglect of refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru says he is afraid of what will happen if Medevac is repealed, as the Morrison government inches closer to scrapping the medical evacuation scheme.
Crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie has revealed she will support the repeal of the Medevac laws if one condition is met. She is yet to say what that condition is.
In a statement, Senator Lambie said she supported the government's position on Operation Sovereign Borders but she did not believe that position was undermined by undermined by the presence of Medevac.
However the government had made it clear it had "concerns" about the way the scheme was operating, Senator Lambie said.
"In recognition, I have proposed to the government the only condition on which I will support the repeal of the Medevac legislation," Senator Lambie said.
"If that condition is met, I will vote in favour of the repeal of Medevac. If that condition is not met, I will oppose the repeal of Medevac."
Senator Lambie said she had come up with her "sensible and reasonable" condition after extensive consultation.
"I am of the firm and conclusive view that the continuing operation of the Medevac provisions cannot be disrupted without this condition being met. I will not entertain any alternative," Senator Lambie said.
But Dr Nick Martin, a former senior medical officer for International Health and Medical Services, said scrapping Medevac would mean a return to the "incredibly expensive and time consuming" processes of fighting for every medical transfer through the courts.
Some patients had waited two years to be flown to Australia for treatment, under the old scheme.
"To return to the days before Medevac would be awful for these people," Dr Martin said.
"It means you'll get treatment if you're lucky enough or savvy enough to have legal representation.
"What if say you've got a brain injury and you haven't got the capacity to give consent. You just sit there rotting away in your cabin and no one's actually fighting for you."
Dr Martin cited a case where a woman with a lump in her breast was left waiting for screening to tell if it was cancerous.
There were pregnant women, who were referred for terminations at seven to eight weeks' gestation, but the procedure was not done until 20-21 weeks because of the hoops they had to jump through.
"They could feel the baby moving. That's the kind of delay that happens when you don't have doctors making the decision but politicians making the decision. That's horrific for a woman's mental health," Dr Martin said.
Dr Martin said there were many cases where people with chronic illnesses like diabetes ended up going blind or in renal failure because they did not receive timely treatment.
Other people have been left "disfigured for life" because routine fractures were not set properly.
"These are all real people. It's easy to dismiss them all as numbers but each person [is] fundamentally messed up for the rest of their lives because they didn't get the kind of intervention that would have made a huge difference," Dr Martin said.
Dr Martin said cases drip-fed to the media, like the situation of the Iranian man brought to Australia for treatment after he injected palm oil into his penis, were "demonising people most at need".
"These guys are the people who need our help the most yet we're treating them the worst," Dr Martin said.