Burnett MP Stephen Bennett aired serious allegations surrounding the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service.
Burnett MP Stephen Bennett aired serious allegations surrounding the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service.

MP aims explosive claims at Wide Bay health service

BURNETT MP Stephen Bennett has aired serious allegations surrounding the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service while under parliamentary privilege.

Mr Bennett's accusations came as he renewed calls for an independent inquiry following the sacking of former CEO Adrian Pennington.

WBHHS board chair Peta Jamieson sacked Mr Pennington in September and the decision was ratified by Health Minister Steven Miles in December.

In parliament yesterday, Mr Bennett raised concerns about "nepotism, bullying and harassment, possible fraud, breaches of policy, cover-ups and issues of interference in appointments and much more" at the service.

"Our community deserves real action from the health minister who has never addressed this cloud of secrecy that surrounds the Labor-appointed Wide Bay Health Service board chair decision to sack our high-performing CEO," he said.

Mr Bennett accused Bryan Burmeister, the deputy chair of the WBHHS board, of being involved in nepotism and his involvement in contract negotiations for his employer, Genesis Care, worth "about $5 million".

Mr Bennett mistakenly referred to GenesisCare as Mr Burmeister's "private company".

Mr Bennett was also critical of Ms Jamieson's use of a private email for correspondence, "which should breach the Premier's own policy that was introduced last year".

He said "the board's use of private lawyers and billing Queensland Health include an unprecedented interference in the recruitment and selection process" of an employee.

Mr Bennett said it was understood, the staff member had been "harassed into quitting her role and has left the region".

"And more recently the Wide Bay Health's chair used a private law firm during the mediation hearings to deal with the fall out of last year's sacking," he said.

"The estimated cost to taxpayers we believe is around $80,000."

Mr Bennett also questioned the involvement of the Department of Health director-general John Wakefield in Mr Pennington's termination as CEO.

He also raised concerns about an employee who he said helped with the sacking of Mr Pennington.

A Queensland Health spokesperson said claims raised by Mr Bennett were being investigated.

"Our great team in Wide Bay is focused on the job of keeping the community healthy and working with Building Queensland to prepare a detailed business case for a new hospital in Bundaberg, on a new site," the spokesperson said.

"Queensland Health is aware of this matter.

"We are investigating and it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."

Ms Jamieson previously told the NewsMail the decision to terminate Mr Pennington's contract was carefully considered and not made lightly.