IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Burnett MP Stephen Bennett raises questions about former Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service CEO Adrian Pennington's sacking in parliament.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Burnett MP Stephen Bennett raises questions about former Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service CEO Adrian Pennington's sacking in parliament.

CEO SACKING: MP launches second parliament attack

FEARING a decline in the region's hospital and health services and "a toxic culture returning to Queensland Health" Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett has supported a motion for better health priorities in parliament last night.

Nearly a week since airing his explosive questions about former Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service chief executive Adrian Pennington's dismissal, Mr Bennett has once again used the parliament floor to pressure the Health Minister as he called for a full external investigation of the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service board chair Peta Jamieson's actions.

Last month Mr Pennington was terminated from his role, "effective immediately" by Ms Jamieson, but his dismissal is still awaiting ministerial approval; as is required under the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011, section 74.

The day Mr Pennington was removed from his post as health boss, the NewsMail reported that there were irreconcilable differences and personality clashes between Mr Pennington and members of the board which had led to a breakdown in relationship.

Ms Jamieson has previously said that the decision to terminate was very carefully considered and not made lightly.

Mr Bennett urged Health Minister Steven Miles to visit the region immediately and provide answers to the community as a matter of public transparency.

"The main issue that is increasingly obvious when it comes to health is that the Labor government has the wrong priorities. Patient care must be the priority," he told parliament.

"We have many political distractions that have stalled innovation, information technology upgrades and my big fear in the standing down of the CEO in Bundaberg is the business case development for the new Bundaberg Hospital.

"I have raised previously that the new acting chief executive, who is doing a great job, was the lead on the business case.

"To date - a month out - no answers to my questions have been provided.

"I note some commentary via media release that has not dispelled my community's real fear of the new hospital's future.

"Again, we need the minister's leadership."

Last week Ms Jamieson said she was unable to comment any further on the HR process while it was still under way, for privacy and confidentiality reasons, but was happy to meet with anyone at any time.

"In relation to the Bundaberg Hospital project, development of the detailed business case remains a priority and work is proceeding as normal," she said.

In parliament, Mr Bennett said the minister needed to get the hospital in its entirety back on track.

"The last month has been disastrous for staff morale," he said.

"I again assure all staff that we are fighting for their right to be treated better.

" … There are real issues of integrity, accountability and process that must be addressed."

He said after a month of secrecy and no answers, he again on behalf of his community asked:

•Was the chief executive put on special leave or terminated as claimed in an email to 4000 staff?

•Why after seven years of excellent service was the Australian Chief Executive of the Year marched out of the hospital?

•What reasons were given for his dismissal and did they directly relate to a mental health crisis?

•Will the minister call for a review of events prior to Mr Pennington's crisis event and Facebook post and how he was managed leading up to his dismissal?

•Can the minister confirm that this was not a personal vendetta?

•Was the appointment of any employees a contributing factor?

•And - this is an important one and it must be put on the public record - what mental health support has been given to staff members and, in particular, to Mr Pennington since he was escorted from the Bundaberg hospital a month ago?

When Ms Jamieson spoke to the NewsMail about Mr Pennington's mental health crisis, she expressed her concern for any impacts on his health and said, "I have personally asked the HHS to provide any support Adrian may need, as I have done previously".

"The board is aware of the Facebook post. The post on its own was not a key factor in Adrian's termination," she said.

"Since making the post, Adrian has apologised to me in person for the comment he made in reference to me in the Facebook post and I accepted his apology.

"Our focus immediately after the post was on Adrian to ensure he was all right, and to give him the time and support he needed.

"He was also offered further support.

"As I have said previously, there are details I'm not prepared to talk about for a number of reasons, including out of respect for Adrian's privacy."

While on the floor, Mr Bennett said sources he was talking to had contrary statements to Ms Jamieson's affirmation.

Mr Bennett concluded his speech by stating that "this minister must get out of the road of what is a bad health system".

In relation to the situation, a spokesperson for the minister had previously said he had received materials about the matter and had requested additional advice and information prior to an assessment being made.

"It would be inappropriate for him to comment on the matter while this process is underway," the spokesperson said.

If you or someone you know needs help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.