‘Serious questions’ on health chief’s email
THE chief executive of SA Health received information about healthcare issues through his personal email account from a former private sector colleague, documents reveal.
Correspondence released under Freedom of Information laws shows Dr Chris McGowan received an email from a former Silver Chain colleague in August.
Dr McGowan spent more than a decade leading Silver Chain, which manages the NDIS, before he was hired in April by the State Government on $550,000 a year.
The Opposition said the disclosure raised “serious questions”, while the public sector watchdog has repeatedly warned MPs and public servants about the risks of using personal email accounts. But Dr McGowan has denied his private email was used to correspond with Silver Chain on any government business.
Registration records show the domain name mcgowan.online was updated three days after he started with SA Health.
Silver Chain’s public policy chief adviser Keith Evans wrote to his former boss on August 1 under the subject line “request for info – trust the info attached is helpful” with British and American healthcare policy details.
He wrote: “Sources re at least 30 per cent of people in a hospital bed today would not need to be there if alternative community based service options were available.”
Perth-based Silver Chain provides specialist nursing, aged care and health services across Australia.
Labor’s health spokesman Chris Picton questioned whether “this private email server was secure and not easily compromised”.
“To be open and accountable, he should turn over his private email server to be audited by the Office of State Records,” Mr Picton said.
“An audit … would ensure that there were no breaches of security, law or regulations.”
Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander QC wrote in his latest annual report: “I remind all public officers of the inherent risks associated with the use of personal email accounts and the need to take particular care to ensure business related emails are managed.”
An SA Health spokeswoman said in a statement: “No government business has been conducted with Silver Chain over Chris McGowan’s personal email account.
“The email was received by Chris and forwarded on to his government email account, as per government protocol.”
A Silver Chain spokesman said the pair had “spoken many times over the years” on home-based health care.
BOSS: Dr Chris McGowan.