Former Chief Executive Officer at Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Adrian Pennington.
Former Chief Executive Officer at Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Adrian Pennington.

Fight for transparency continues after health boss sacked

A DEMAND for transparency has been made by Burnett MP Stephen Bennett in state parliament on Wednesday night in regards to the sacking of former Wide Bay health chief executive Adrian Pennington.

Mr Bennett criticised the State Government's handling of Mr Pennington's termination after Opposition Health Minister Ros Bates moved a Private Members Motion on the health system.

He rose to speak in support of the motion, arguing that a "toxic culture" was returning to Queensland Health.

"I intend today to again speak up for the people of the Bundaberg, Hervey Bay and Maryborough regions who are entitled to public transparency and answers on the circumstances of the standing down of the chief executive of the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service," Mr Bennett said.

"We have seen Queensland Health's hospital performance data showing that ambulance ramping is increasing and surgery wait times are getting worse.

"I take little comfort when results of ambulance ramping is up 12 per cent statewide since the last election and, unfortunately, in Bundaberg up 6 per cent."

Mr Bennett told the parliament there were "real issues of integrity, accountability and process that must be addressed".

He said the public had a right to know why Mr Pennington had been forced out of his position.

"I again call for a full external investigation of the board chair's actions in the so-called sacking of the chief executive," Mr Bennett said.

"After a month of secrecy and no answers, on behalf of my community I again ask: was the chief executive put on special leave or terminated as claimed in an email to 4,000 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.

"We have to look after all staff in regard to their mental health.

"These are reasonable questions.

"The minister has not provided any answers."

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Steven Miles said the minister 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 spokeswoman said.