A committee of Parliament wants an independent investigation held into allegations of fraud and corruption at Mandurah’s largest hospital and raised concerns about the intimidation of witnesses called to give evidence to the committee.
The standing committee on estimates and financial operations chairwoman Giz Watson said their preliminary findings bring into question negotiations between the State Government and the private company that runs Peel Health Campus, Health Solutions WA.
“The committee was surprised at the seriousness and extent of issues revealed in the evidence it received and the documents it considered,” Ms Watson told Parliament. “The evidence obtained by the committee raises significant questions about the provision of health care on behalf of the State by Health Solutions.”
She said those concerns were included “implications for the financial administration of the State’s health system.”
Ms Watson revealed that one matter had already been referred to the Corruption and Crime Commission and that witnesses called to the committee had been threatened.
Without saying where the threats came from she warned that contempt or criminal charges could flow if anyone tries to “identify, threaten or harm any witnesses before Parliament”.
A key witness, the hospital’s former chief operating officer Ashton Foley, was commended for her courage.
“It is not easy for anyone to be the whistleblower and Mrs Foley is to be commended for her courage in this regard,” Ms Watson said.
The committee, which is made up of Greens, Labor, Liberal and National MPs, said it was unable to complete its inquiries because Parliament rises today, but said an independent inquiry, possibly a judicial investigation, was no needed.
In its findings, the committee was critical of the former executive chairman of the health campus Jon Fogarty, saying he had hampered their quest for answers by not making himself available.
Living in Singapore, Mr Fogarty did not return to Perth for questioning by the committee despite a summons for him to appear being issued.
Health Solutions WA, now being run by former WA Health Department chief Neale Fong, is trying to win a contract extension from the Barnett Government and negotiate a deal to build a new private hospital on Government land near the existing campus.
Labor health spokesman Roger Cook said the committee’s recommendations were proof that the Government had been turning a blind eye or trying to cover up extremely concerning issues surrounding the administration of the hospital.