Mid­land hos­pi­tal in the clear

Midland Reporter - - Front Page - Sarah Brookes

THE WA Health Depart­ment says a se­nior bu­reau­crat named in the cor­rup­tion scan­dal at the North Metropoli­tan Health Ser­vice did not have any over­sight or in­flu­ence over the con­struc­tion of the Mid­land hos­pi­tal.

Last week’s CCC re­port re­vealed con­trac­tors won lu­cra­tive busi­ness at a range of WA health cam­puses, in­clud­ing Mid­land, and the fraud went un­de­tected for up to a decade and re­sulted in the “gross mis­use” and fraud­u­lent mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in pub­lic funds.

An al­le­ga­tion from a whistle­blower sparked the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which un­cov­ered pub­lic of­fi­cers ac­cepted tens of thou­sands of dol­lars in gifts, in­clud­ing travel, ac­com­mo­da­tion, en­ter­tain­ment and ex­pen­sive and boozy lunches, in re­turn for award­ing work at NMHS hos­pi­tals in­clud­ing Sir Charles Gaird­ner, Mid­land, Joon­dalup, PathWest and Gray­lands.

The com­mis­sion sug­gested pros­e­cut­ing au­thor­i­ties con­sider lay­ing crim­i­nal charges against three for­mer pub­lic ser­vants, in­clud­ing John Fuller­ton, who had over­sight of the now de­com­mis­sioned Swan Dis­trict Hos­pi­tal and Kala­munda Hos­pi­tal, and for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor David Mul­li­gan.

A Health Depart­ment spokesman said al­though Mr Mul­li­gan was an NMHS em­ployee through­out the con­struc­tion of the Mid­land hos­pi­tal, as St John of God Mid­land Pub­lic Hos­pi­tal was the re­spon­si­ble en­tity for the con­struc­tion con­tract, he did not have any over­sight or in­flu­ence over the con­struc­tion ex­pen­di­ture.

“Sim­i­larly, the project ex­pen­di­ture was tightly con­trolled through­out the plan­ning, con­struc­tion and com­mis­sion­ing stages and val­i­dated through the as­signed DoH In­fra­struc­ture Unit,” he said.

The CCC has called for the pros­e­cu­tion of Mr Fuller­ton, who the agency al­leged had en­gaged in cor­rup­tion with con­trac­tors for “years”.

It is al­leged Mr Fuller­ton asked a con­trac­tor to project man­age the ren­o­va­tion of his mother's pri­vate res­i­dence in High Wy­combe in 2014, as well as the full-scale ren­o­va­tion of his Glen For­rest home in 2015.

CCC Com­mis­sioner John McKech­nie de­scribed the con­duct as fraud on the State and said he was shocked by the scale of cor­rup­tion.

“When an in­di­vid­ual who holds pub­lic of­fice is con­fronted with choos­ing be­tween the du­ties and de­mands of their po­si­tion and their own pri­vate in­ter­ests, they are ex­pected to de­fend the pub­lic purse,” he said.

“Ev­ery dol­lar cor­ruptly con­verted was a dol­lar less to be spent on health­care.”

Health Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Dr David Rus­sel­lWeisz said the find­ings were shock­ing and the ac­tions of the named of­fi­cers de­plorable.

“I am deeply dis­turbed by the de­lib­er­ate steps these se­nior NMHS pub­lic of­fi­cers took to covertly de­vi­ate from rig­or­ous pro­cure­ment poli­cies and pro­ce­dures to ma­nip­u­late pro­cesses for per­sonal gain,” he said.

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