Former health boss Adrian Pennington.
Former health boss Adrian Pennington.

Friend reveals health CEO's mental health crisis

A CLOSE friend, who has rallied around sacked health boss Adrian Pennington has detailed the mental health crisis which led to his breakdown and a suicide attempt.

In a move to set the record straight and address ongoing questions regarding the sudden dismissal of the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service CEO on Monday, the friend has detailed his concerns.

The friend said in July, Mr Pennington was rocked by the death of a friend, was dealing with personal issues and unrelenting scrutiny by Ms Jamieson, when he suffered a mental health crisis and attempted to take his own life.

He penned a lengthy suicide note on social media, which among things thanked the staff at the hospital and also accused Ms Jamieson of repeatedly threatening to sack him.

The post, which was up for 42 minutes before friends could remove it, urged the health team to continue his work to build a new hospital and launch a medical school.

"Make me proud as I am of you," he wrote, thanking his staff.

The post also hit out at Ms Jamieson and said by taking his own life, he would remove her constant questions.

"I have worked tirelessly to turn Wide Bay from the worst to the best.

"Good luck with questioning me daily.

"The medical school and new hospital I planned some seven years ago. Basic supply and demand were at the core of this. Ask any exec team member. They never thought it would happen but it will."

The friend claims the post was not public because Mr Pennington's Facebook settings were private, however about two dozen Queensland Health employees are on his friends list.

The source said it was this post that alerted his friends and they were able to save Mr Pennington's life, calling an ambulance and getting him the medical help he needed.

He worked with a clinical psychologist and was deemed fit and well to return to work after a period of leave, the friend claims.

Calls have been made for Health Minister Steven Miles to intervene and launch an independent inquiry.

"In light of the comments made about Ms Jamieson in the social media post, and her subsequent actions, we urge the Minister to conduct an independent inquiry into the whole matter," the friend said.

"The best performing Hospital Health Service in Queensland is not down to one person but a team that he employed, he developed and he led.

"So the career of 40-year health professional is finished due to one social media post, made during a mental health crisis.

"This is not the way any employer, let alone one like Queensland Health who prides itself on how it treats its employees, should treat any employee, let alone one of the best health administrators in the country such as Adrian Pennington."

Questions have been raised about the process of the dismissal, which was made by the chair and without a vote of the board.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Board chair Peta Jamieson responded to questions today.

"I am very concerned about any impacts on Adrian's health and wellbeing, and I have personally asked the HHS to provide any support Adrian may need, as I have done previously," she said.

"It is concerning that anyone is prepared to share the details of what was clearly a difficult time for Adrian.

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

"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.

"The decision to terminate was very carefully considered and not made lightly.

"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."

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