A GOVERNMENT investigation into the conduct of a senior health bureaucrat has cost the state more than $100,000 and the tab is continuing to rise.
More than half the costs for the investigation into bullying claims against ousted Royal Hobart Hospital chief Michael Pervan were for two investigations, costing more than $68,000.
Those investigations are now subject to a Supreme Court hearing as Mr Pervan claims the appointment of an investigator was bungled, the investigation was biased and the investigator exceeded her authority.
Leader of the Government in the Upper House Doug Parkinson said yesterday the cost to date for the Department of Health and Human Services’ use of the services of the Director of Public Prosecutions was $13,693.
Mr Parkinson, who was responding to a question from Opposition justice spokeswoman Vanessa Goodwin, said the cost of filling Mr Pervan’s position in an acting capacity had been about $24,000.
He said he was not yet able to determine the final cost to the state because of the continuing legal issues and the DHHS not having been able to appoint a permanent replacement for Mr Pervan.
Mr Pervan, who has not been formally stood down as the Royal’s chief executive, remains on the DHHS staff as executive director of Community Development, Disability and Housing.
He was removed from his $200,000-a-year position at the hospital by DHHS secretary David Roberts after allegations of bullying were levelled against him by several senior hospital staff in October.
Mr Pervan complained to Acting State Service Commissioner Iain Frawley that he had been denied a right of reply and procedural fairness when he was not interviewed as part of an internal inquiry into the complaints.
• What Alice Burchill, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services, says:
Executive Director, Commissioning
Wednesday, 7 September 2011
Pervan Investigation Terminated: New Role for Health Administrator
Alice Burchill, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, has announced that she has decided to take no further action with respect to complaints of alleged breaches by Mr Michael Pervan of the State Service Code of Conduct involving allegations of harassment and victimisation of staff at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Accordingly, the investigation into the alleged breaches will be terminated.
No adverse findings have been made against Mr Pervan.
It has been agreed that Mr Pervan will take up the important role of Executive Director, Commissioning in the Department. This is an executive level appointment with responsibility for determining the health needs of the population and agreeing appropriate service level agreements with Area Health Services for service provision. The appointment will be on the same terms as, and of a similar duration to, Mr Pervan’s former position at the RHH.
Ms Burchill said: “The matter of the complaints against Mr Pervan should now be considered as closed. Mr Pervan is an experienced health administrator. The Department welcomes his decision to take up the position of Executive Director, Commissioning. He will leave the position of Chief Executive Officer of the RHH with immediate effect.
This will now clear the way for the position of CEO of the Southern Area Health Service to be filled on a permanent basis.
“At present, Ms Jane Holden is acting CEO at the RHH and this will continue until 30 September 2011.”
Mr Pervan said: “I welcome the end of the investigation. It has been a very stressful experience. I am grateful to those who have stood by me throughout.”
As was foreshadowed by the Premier last week, the Department will move to make a permanent appointment to the position of CEO at the RHH in the usual manner.
• Earlier today on Tasmanian Times: Tasmania: Ripe for the Plucking
• What HACSU says ...
5 September 2011
Today the Tasmanian Government announced that the formal investigation relating to allegations made against Mr Pervan has been terminated.
The Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) has for the past twelve months assisted Mr Pervan as a HACSU member through the investigation process launched against him by the previous Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services David Roberts and maintained by the current Secretary Alice Burchill.
Mr. Pervan does not intend to make any media comment with respect to the settlement of this matter and asks that the media respect that the last twelve months have been harrowing for himself and his family. Mr. Pervan is, to say the least, relieved that this matter is now at an end.
Mr. Pervan has asked HACSU to make the following statement on his behalf.
“The past twelve months have been the most harrowing and difficult period I have had to endure during my working life. I wish to formally thank the Health and Community Services Union for the advocacy and support provided to me throughout this period. I also want to thank the other unions and the 100’s of staff at the RHH and Southern Tasmania Area Health Service whose support over the past year has been overwhelming and has demonstrated to me again what we all know - that Tasmania’s greatest asset is its people and that when the chips are down you see them at their very best.”
HACSU has continued to conduct Mr Pervan’s case as it would have for any member who found themselves in the circumstances that he found himself.
Mr. Pervan found himself confronted with a mish mash of unsubstantiated vexatious and frivolous allegations and a botched initial investigation which denied him any opportunity to respond. The resulting incompetently and appallingly administered process has kept him permanently away from his workplace at the Royal Hobart Hospital.
Any reasonable person looking at the allegations would have known that there was no case for Mr Pervan to answer from the outset.
This process has uncovered significant failings in the legislation covering State Service Employment (The State Service Act 2000).
If the State Government was serious about valuing its employees and being a model employer, then the Premier as Minister responsible for administering the State Service Act should immediately commence a comprehensive review of the Act to ensure that the simple human right to natural justice and procedural fairness that should be afforded to all State Service employees is actually enshrined in the Act. Given that the Premier is also the Minister for Public Sector Management and has recently championed a bill of rights for Tasmanians, we would hope such a review and correction would be among her highest priorities.
Sadly with the way that the legislation currently stands, the Pervan case, and many like it, have demonstrated that Tasmanian public sector employees have no protection from arbitrary and capricious actions and have nowhere to go to seek relief from such behaviour.
In Mr. Pervan’s case, whilst he was entitled to expect a safe workplace free from harassment, he instead endured a year where he was effectively suspended from his workplace with his previously unblemished reputation unnecessarily placed under a cloud while the employer failed at every turn to provide any kind of fair or timely approach to resolving matters. At no time in that year were we given access to documents or provided evidence or witnesses to support the allegations against him whilst the Department’s media statements left Mr Pervan exposed to media scrutiny without any capacity to respond or defend himself.
First published: 2011-09-07 05:20 PM