Staff reported more than 299 gifts

Daniel Emerson

The careers of 108 mostly clinical staff have been placed under a cloud after the Health Department referred them to the corruption watchdog amid allegations they inappropriately accepted 299 gifts from corporate donors.

_The Weekend West _revealed in June that the department had been unable to detail any action taken against the staff 14 months after Auditor-General Colin Murphy caught them failing to declare gifts from pharmaceutical companies.

But Corruption and Crime Commission executive director Mike Silverstone told a budget estimates hearing on Thursday the department referred 299 allegations "in relation to gifts and benefits received by staff" during the last financial year.

A Health Department spokes woman yesterday confirmed most of the 108 staff were doctors, with most gifts in question "sponsored travel" to conferences.

There was no reported action under former director general Kim Snowball, who stepped down in December.

The spokeswoman said acting director general Bryant Stokes instructed the department's corporate governance directorate to conduct an internal inquiry into the matter, "including interviewing witnesses".

"The full internal inquiry is due to report its findings to the acting director-general on 31 October 2013," she said. It is understood the CCC would then review the internal investigation.

Shadow health minister Roger Cook said the Government could ill-afford to suspend or sack clinicians but may have no choice after being too slow to put in place definitive policies surrounding gifts.