‘Vinegar Tits’: Health boss’ claim shot down by watchdog

 

A hospital boss who denied in a Parliamentary hearing that his health district was under external investigation has had his evidence contradicted by the state's workplace safety watchdog.

Metro North Hospital and Health Service chief executive officer Shaun Drummond was questioned by the State Opposition at a Budget Estimates committee hearing in State Parliament this month over an internal investigation into bullying allegations against a senior manager.

It followed reports in The Courier-Mail earlier this year revealing multiple complaints by current and former Metro North employees about a "toxic" workplace culture left unchecked, despite attempts to alert superiors more than a year before an internal investigation was launched.

Complainants allege they were given offensive nicknames by the senior manager, such as "Vinegar Tits," berated in meetings, harassed while working and accused of "conspiring" if seen talking or socialising out of work with colleagues.

Mr Drummond confirmed during the Estimates hearing that there was an ongoing internal investigation into the allegations.

Metro North Hospital and Health Service chief executive Shaun Drummond during Estimates Hearings at Parliament House. Picture: Tara Croser
Metro North Hospital and Health Service chief executive Shaun Drummond during Estimates Hearings at Parliament House. Picture: Tara Croser

But when asked by Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates during the Estimates committee hearing whether Workplace Health and Safety Queensland was also investigating, Mr Drummond replied: "No."

The regulator, however, has since contradicted Mr Drummond's reply, with a spokesman responding to questions from the newspaper by stating that "Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's investigation into the matter is ongoing."

It refused to be drawn on Mr Drummond's denial, saying it would make no further comment "as the investigation is ongoing."

Ms Bates has called on the Health Minister to explain why Mr Drummond told the Estimates committee hearing that WHSQ was not investigating, saying the staff deserved answers.

A Queensland Health spokeswoman said Mr Drummond was unaware of any formal or active investigation by WHSQ when he appeared before the hearing.

"At the Estimates hearing, the Metro North HHS Chief Executive was not aware of any formal or active investigation initiated by WHSQ and the information he provided at the time was in good faith and accurate to his knowledge," she said.

The Courier-Mail first revealed in November that WHSQ was looking into a complaint about Metro North's handling of bullying claims made by a group of women about the senior manager.

Opposition Health and Ambulance Services spokeswoman Ros Bates during Estimates Hearings at Parliament House. Picture: Tara Croser
Opposition Health and Ambulance Services spokeswoman Ros Bates during Estimates Hearings at Parliament House. Picture: Tara Croser


Metro North's media unit was contacted for comment on the article at the time.

A WHSQ investigator had also been handed policy documents from Metro North months before the Estimates hearing, but was told other documents would not be handed over voluntarily for fear of prejudicing the health service's internal probe.

It is understood the WHSQ investigator is now awaiting the outcome of the long-running internal investigation into the allegations by Metro North - the state's biggest hospital district, taking in Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Prince Charles Hospital, Redcliffe, Kilcoy and Caboolture Hospital - at which point it will formally request the result to assess if Metro North's investigation followed all policies and procedures.

WHSQ will also look at whether the health district has systems in place to adequately deal with the risk of workplace bullying.

The WHSQ probe was initiated after issues were brought to the attention of Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace, whose chief-of-staff asked the Office of Industrial Relations to contact one of the complainants.

Metro North's internal review has been running for almost six months without an outcome.

Queensland Health did not respond to questions on when the investigation would be finalised.

Health Minister Y'vette D'Ath refused to comment due to the matter being under investigation.

Originally published as 'Vinegar Tits': Health boss' claim shot down by watchdog


Teen tells cops she knew she’d “be over” after crashing car

Premium Content Teen tells cops she knew she’d “be over” after crashing car

IN COURT: A teenager told police she “knew she would be over” the legal limit when...

Torrents of Olympics-driven cash to flow across state

Premium Content Torrents of Olympics-driven cash to flow across state

Tourism benefits to reach far beyond Brisbane in Games glory

What got our Olympic bid over the line

Premium Content What got our Olympic bid over the line

What got our 2032 Olympic Games bid over the line