Image for Shutdown. No more answers from the Health Department

Health Minister Lara Giddings and Health Department secretary David Roberts (pictured) have refused to answer any further questions from Tasmanian Times about the running of their department.

Tasmanian Times asked a series of questions on Tuesday morning (27/10/09), mostly about trips made by bureaucrats. There was no reply, so we rang the Health Department’s communications unit this morning (28/10/09) to ask when we could expect answers.

Frank Noakes, the Health Department’s communications and media adviser, said there would be no response.

“Our position is that we are not going to answer any more questions on this issue,” Mr Noakes said.

Tasmanian Times asked who authorised him to refuse to answer our questions.

“The Department,” Mr Noakes said.

Tasmanian Times said the decision to shut down must have been made by someone.

“I’m sorry, I can’t say anything further,” Mr Noakes said.

The following are the questions that Tasmanian Times asked:

1. When Health Minister Lara Giddings approved the appointments of David Roberts as secretary of her department and Alice Burchill as a deputy secretary, did she know about the five year suspension of heart surgeon Raj Mattu, which cost British   taxpayers an estimated 5 million pounds? ( Here )

2. Members of the 20-strong group on a study tour of the United   Kingdom ( Here ) and the United States in August/September last year, were offered a choice of stop-overs on the way home, either Paris or   Singapore. Did DHHS pay their hotel bills or any other expenses during the stop-overs? If so, how much?

3. DHHS says that “staff” at the Royal Hobart Hospital asked Dame Catherine Elcoat to spend a day with them. Tasmanian Times again asks who made the request? Or were staff told by the Department that she would visit?

4. Has Elcoat submitted reports to DHHS for each of her five visits in eleven months? If not, why not?

5. How many overseas trips has Health Department secretary David Roberts made this year, including trips that began last year?

6. How many overseas trips has Health Department deputy secretary Alice Burchill made this year, including trips that began last year?

7. How many overseas trips has the Health Department’s other three deputy secretaries made this year, including trips that began last year?

8. Alice Burchill’s airfares for a 20-day trip around Australia, from 21 October to 9 November 2008, cost $11,595.70. Where did she go and why?

Meanwhile, London’s Daily Telegraph reports:

Opposition politicians said the figures demonstrated that the NHS had become a “bureaucratic black hole” under Labour, with money diverted away from the front line to pay an increasing army of administrators.

The analysis by the Conservative Party shows that funding for the Department of Health, its quangos and regional authorities reached more than £12 billion last year, a rise of 103 per cent since 2003.

The £12.6 billion budget for central administration was seven the amount spent on either maternity services or dentistry, which each received £1.8 billion, or Accident and Emergency departments, which received £1.7 billion.

Billions more was spent on administration at hospitals and primary care trusts across the country, for which specific administration figures are not compiled.

Read more here