14 March 2010

ACT Health Minister Katy Gallagher accused of Workplace Bullying Coverup at Canberra Hospital's maternity unit

Katy Gallagher says naming the person conducting the second review could compromise the process.

Katy Gallagher says naming the person conducting the second review could compromise the process.

ACT Health Minister Katy Gallagher has rejected accusation she is covering up details of an investigation into workplace bullying in Canberra Hospital's maternity unit.

The Government last month ordered two external reviews of the Canberra Hospital's obstetrics department after allegations of workplace bullying were made.

Nine obstetricians have resigned from the hospital in the past 13 months.

The first review will not be restricted to the Canberra Hospital and will consider all ACT public maternity units.

The four person review panel includes Queensland clinical adviser Professor Michael Humphreys; midwife adviser Avon Strahle; Adelaide obstetrician Associate Professor Robert Bryce; and obstetrician Dr David Rankin.

The draft terms of reference for the inquiry include assessment of mortality and clinical governance, staff roles and responsibilities, and staffing numbers and workloads.

It will also assess the service delivery and working arrangements between all obstetric units in the ACT and options for improvements.

The second review will investigate allegations of bullying at the Canberra Hospital's maternity unit.

But Ms Gallagher will not say who is conducting that review, although several sources have told the ABC that workplace relations expert Henry Price will be heading it.

"They are acting independently in terms of the way they are conducting the investigation," she said.

"So I don't want for a moment for anyone to allege we are trying to control this review in anyway, that's not the way but I am trying to make sure it's a fair process for everybody."

Opposition health spokesman Jeremy Hanson says the Government has drawn a veil of secrecy.

"How can we have any confidence that we're actually going to get all the problems come to lights," he said.

But Ms Gallagher says she is not hiding anything. She says she has received legal advice that naming the person could compromise the process.

The review will investigate any incidences that could be considered bullying or harassment that occurred in the hospital's obstetrics unit between 2006 and 2010.

Mr Hanson says he does not think the independent investigation will get to the bottom of the bullying allegations.

He says the Government is not being thorough enough.

"We want to make sure this never happens again and because Katy Gallagher is refusing to conduct a board of inquiry, refusing to name who's actually going to conduct her review and has inadequate terms of reference, we are not going to get to the bottom of what are very very serious allegations," he said.


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