Honorable Lawrence Springborg, Minister for Health, Queensland, Australia: Open inquiry re the culture of harassment & cover-up in Queensland Health
According to a recent publication, Queensland Health now provides services to approximately four million Australians.
However, a great many staff are being subjected to horrendous working conditions, where they are obliged to report wrong-doing in the workplace, but harassed if they do, and potentially sacked if they don't. This negatively affects the quality of service delivery available to those four million people.
The organisation is so fearful of admitting liability in regard to the systemic workplace harassment within Queensland Health, related to the abuse of policy, processes and legitimate authority, that it is willing to allow good people to have their careers and reputations destroyed, whilst allowing bullies and harassers to continue their campaigns of fear, unchecked and sometimes even rewarded with promotion.
In my own experience (a clinician of 25 years), patient care and outcomes are the lowest consideration in some areas of the organisation, and maintenance of the powerbase and status quo are all-important.
Every year, Queensland Health diverts millions of dollars away from patient care in order to do battle with its staff. In every respect, patient care suffers as a result of the way Queensland Health operates. If staff are afraid to speak out, unethical, dangerous and potentially criminal behaviours persist and thrive. If righteous dissent is quashed, growth and learning stagnate. If workplace harassment is tolerated and rewarded, staff are forced into workplace mediocrity, for fear of outshining their harassers and attracting their ire.
Until a light is shone into the dark recesses of Queensland Health, and until the culture of cover-up and protection of workplace harassers stops, the Queensland public can expect little more than mediocrity in service provision, and massive wastage of health dollars on an ongoing basis, as Queensland Health fights a tobacco company-like battle against those who have been harmed by its misfeasance.
- Minister for Health, Queensland, Australia
Honorable Lawrence Springborg
As a senior member of the Newman Government, and as the accountable officer with regards to the operation of Queensland Health, the petitioners request that you take heed of the concerns being raised herein. We request that you recognise and acknowledge the seriousness of the ramifications of allowing Queensland Health's culture of harassment and cover-up to continue.
This culture is not a fabrication. Commissioner Morris named it, as have others who have previously peeled back the glossy surface of the organisation and peered into its fetid underbelly.
Parts of Queensland health are descending into anarchy. The higher echelons are now occupied by self-interested empire-builders, many of whom have scant regard for the patients that pass through their facilities, and even less for the staff who provide services to those patients.
Widespread abuses will occur when good people are afraid to speak out. Such abuses are occurring, and cannot be ignored by any government that claims to belong to a first-world nation.
It is acknowledged that good work is still being done by Queensland Health, but the cancer that is workplace harassment and mobbing is becoming more prevalent. Necessarily, as the cancer spreads, productivity and effectiveness must decline. Patient outcomes must suffer. And as the best and brightest are hunted out of the organisation, more lawsuits will follow, stripping money away from patient care and service provision.
You risk having Queensland Health becoming a quagmire of dispute and litigation. Some would say that this is already the case. Nothing will change without strong leadership, a preparedness to name the cancer, and a willingness to address what is clearly an extremely difficult problem.
The petitioners therefore call upon you to instigate an open inquiry regarding the culture of harassment & cover-up in Queensland Health, with wide terms of reference and a mandate to identify serial harassers, remove them from the workplace, and afford real protections for staff within the department so that they can do the jobs that they are paid for without the relentless fear of professional and personal attack that is so often now the norm.
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