CHIEF MINISTER and Minister for Health Katy Gallagher has fronted media and revealed that one of her family members has a personal relationship with the senior administrator that was stood down for manipulating emergency department data at the Canberra Hospital, declaring a conflict of interest.
Ms Gallagher said she had a professional relationship with the female administrator and was adamant that there was no link between why the administrator was merely stood down opposed to being sacked.
She has now requested that the Auditor-General Maxine Cooper conduct a performance audit into the Health directorate’s data and data integrity at the Canberra Hospital.
“I knew the officer, I knew her in a professional capacity, but she also has a personal connection to a family member of mine,” she said.
“I’ve taken some advice on this in the last day or so about how to manage that, particularly going forward and I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way forward is to hand the responsibility of the investigation, the audit, the briefings to the department and any analysis over to the deputy Chief Minister for him to handle.”
She said that the Health Directorate will continue its own audit and review on ED data, while an “external pair of eyes” look at the broader issue of data integrity.
“My immediate response was to deal with the issue as it presented itself on the weekend and working out a way of managing that and understanding what the impact of that in the immediate sense, including dealing with making sure people affected by this were managed appropriately,” the Chief Minister said.
“Once that was in place, I took some advice, and I have to say it isn’t clear, it is a conflict and I did need to get that futher advice in terms of telling the public which is what I am doing today.
“I believe I have come to this decision as soon as I practically could with all the information available to me and that includes privacy concerns, it included legal advice and includes advice around the code of conduct.”
She said she will await the Auditor General’s decision on whether she will conduct a performance audit.
The Chief Minister could not provide an update on the Health Directorate’s investigation so far.
The Opposition’s health spokesperson Jeremy Hanson said Katy Gallagher should have volunteered the information from day one.
“Katy Gallagher should have admitted this right away as it raises obvious questions about the staff member’s motives,” Mr Hanson said.
“Instead, she intentionally hid it from the public, and presumably only admitted to it after my questioning in the briefing.
“This Chief Minister cannot be trusted. She covered up bullying in Canberra Hospital, was dishonest about elective surgery data, released falsified emergency department data, and now, didn’t give Canberrans the full story about the staff member involved for a whole week.
“This is about as serious as it gets and is a despicable breach of trust between Canberrans and the Chief Minister.
“Peddling incorrect statistics was bad enough, but Katy Gallagher has now shown she has no boundaries when it comes to hiding the full facts from Canberrans.”