‘Se­ri­ous ques­tions’ on health chief’s email

The Advertiser - - NEWS - AN­DREW HOUGH

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.

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