I didn't read report until now: Springborg

By Alexandra Patrikios

Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg didn't read a report stating the care provided by a Brisbane-based mental health unit controversially closed in 2014 was essential until after three former patients had died, an inquiry has heard.

Mr Springborg was the Liberal National Party government's health minister when the Barrett Adolescent Centre shut down in January 2014.

In the eight months following the closure of the Wacol site - which provided long-term inpatient treatment for people under 18 - three former patients died.

A commission of inquiry now running in the Brisbane Magistrates Court has heard the closure period was characterised by inexperienced staff, confused communication and heightened emotions among patients and their families.

But before the closure, the Expert Clinical Reference Group wrote a report stating the type of care it provided was an essential service component and should be prioritised - a report Mr Springborg conceded on Friday he didn't read at the time and had only done so to prepare for giving evidence at the inquiry.

Counsel Assisting Paul Freeburn suggested this pointed to an apparent disconnect with his earlier remarks that there was "no doubt" funding would've been sourced if senior clinicians pressed for a replacement institutional-style unit.

"If (senior clinicians) had provided contrary advice I have no doubt we would have been able to source the funding," Mr Springborg told the inquiry.

"It was up to clinicians to advise me."

Mr Freeburn also cited Mr Springborg's own affidavit, in which he assured there would have been no difficulty finding funds for services the expert group or a related planning group deemed necessary.

A replacement unit for the BAC had been slated for Redlands but this plan was discarded to divert funds to 12 neglected rural hospitals, the inquiry heard.

Mr Springborg didn't stop outside court to speak to reporters after his evidence, insisting he'd already given his testimony.

Outside court, lawyer Lisa Flynn said he'd refused multiple requests from patients' parents and families for a meeting about the site's closure.

"I think Lawrence Springborg will have to live with his conscience, just as I'm going to have to live with the grief of losing my daughter," mother Justine Wilkinson said.

The inquiry continues before Commissioner Margaret Wilson.

  • Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting.