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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
Premier Mark McGowan’s move to call on the Public Sector Commissioner to review why the Director General of the Health Department was not made aware of serious allegations surrounding senior public servants is welcomed, but does not go far enough and should be extended across the entire Health System’s culture and the handling of procurement processes and contracts, the Australian Medical Association (WA) said today.
“The only way to ensure that these issues do not continue is to have a complete, department-wide investigation into the writing, signing and management of contracts, some of them worth millions of dollars,” AMA (WA) President Dr Omar Khorshid said.
“There have been too many serious blunders involving contracts and the delivery of major projects made by the Health Department over the last few years for a piece-meal approach to investigations to be the best approach,” he said.
“We need to ensure that these major errors do not continue, that culture is improved, that practices be put in place and procedures strengthened.”
“Doing it bit by bit, or just reacting to daily media reports, will not resolve anything and will permit these practices to continue,” Dr Khorshid said.
It is time for the culture of secrecy to come to an end.
“Far too often the Health Department has used commercial confidentiality as an excuse for not making information public. The current culture of hiding information has to change.”
“The best way of ensuring that corruption does not occur is the medicine of openness and making information more easily available. Too often darkness and secrecy provides the environment for confusion, even corruption, to take hold.”
The Health Department and Health Services need to develop a culture of accountability and transparency; something that has been called for before but nothing has changed.
“I can understand Premier McGowan’s latest request for information about this particular issue involving the Director General of the Health Department.
“However this issue is much more important than finding a scapegoat to blame for the current scandal. This is about ensuring that tax-payers money is spent properly, seeing projects are delivered in a timely fashion and running major contracts in our health system properly.
“Any investigation has to be a nuts and bolts, whole of system approach, addressing culture, performance, accountability and transparency, ensuring the events revealed by the CCC Report are not repeated, that information is handed on when appropriate, and contracts managed better.
The investigation should also address the NMHS and Health Department’s initial investigations into this matter and how such serious alleged misconduct was missed even after being reported.
It is important that the investigation is broad enough and robust enough to restore public and staff confidence in the management of valuable health dollars.