Health Secretary David Roberts’ UK study trip in August-September last year cost $10,069, as revealed by Opposition Health spokesman Brett Whiteley under Freedom of Information (1/10/09).

However,  Mr Roberts headed a group of 19 members of his department who accompanied him on this trip - for a total cost of $205,710.

The group attended a one day seminar in London by multinational Ernst & Young, which was subsequently awarded two contracts by Health Minister Lara Giddings, worth a total of $1,388,750.

These contracts - to undertake a core business review for a new public hospital - were exempted by Treasury from a tender process.

Mr Roberts had worked with Ernst & Young previously. The company had a contract with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire National Health Trust (University Hospitals), in the United Kingdom,  when Mr Roberts was chief executive officer.

Mr Roberts was CEO of University Hospitals during a five year dispute with suspended heart surgeon Raj Mattu, which cost British taxpayers 5 million pounds. It was reported in the British media as a scandalous waste of public money.

The surgeon was reinstated.

Mr Roberts moved to Tasmania.

A senior colleague at University Hospitals, Alice Casey - now Alice Burchill - was later appointed to a newly created position in the Health Department, that of Deputy Secretary Care and Reform. Ms Giddings approved the appointment despite the moratorium on senior public service appointments.

This information, and more about Mr Roberts’ history, is included in a number of stories written by me in the past four months and posted on tasmaniantimes.com

Earlier: DHSS staff’s international trip