Two contracts awarded by the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services to multinational company Ernst & Young, worth an estimated $1,388,650, were not part of a competitive tender process. The contracts were awarded in October 2008 and April this year.
And, DHHS spent $205,710 in September last year to send 19 staff to the United Kingdom to study management practices in British public hospitals, which included a one-day seminar by Ernst & Young in London.

The first Ernst and Young contract was for a core business analysis of the State Government’s proposed New Royal Hobart Hospital and allied services.
However, the Bartlett Government dumped the $1.5 billion hospital project in May this year, citing a $1 billion fall in GST revenue.

DHHS Deputy Secretary Strategy Planning and Performance Catherine Katz told Tasmanian Times that Ernst & Young was the only firm that could undertake a rapid review for the New Royal project – hence it had not gone out to tender.

“A case for exemption from the Treasurer’s Instructions covering procurement policy was put to Treasury in August last year and approved in October,” she said.

Although the New Royal project had been abandoned, Ms Katz said the review had identified nearly 1000 opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness in Southern Area Health Services, including the Royal.

As a result, Ms Katz said the CEOs of the Northern and North Western Health Areas had sought an extension of the core business review to include the Launceston General Hospital, and the North West Regional Hospital and Mental Health Services – again not put out for tender.

“Given the service efficiencies and cost savings which will accrue as a result [of the two reviews] it is very good value for money.” she said.

The DHHS study tour group was led by DHHS Secretary David Roberts, who was a public health administrator in the UK before moving to Hobart in December 2007. Australian Nursing Federation Tasmanian Branch secretary Neroli Ellis also joined the tour. (See links above)

Mr Roberts was CEO of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire National Health Service Trust (University Hospitals) for five years until July 31, 2006. Tasmania’s Health Minister Lara Giddings appointed him Secretary of her department in August 2007, a post he took up in late December. Mr Roberts had worked with Ernst & Young on a cost reduction program for University Hospitals.

University Hospitals chief operating officer, Alice Casey, left her job on December 31,2007. Under her married name, Alice Burchill, she moved to Hobart late last year after her appointment to the position of Deputy Secretary Care Reform, a new position created in February 2008. The Department now has four deputy secretaries.

Ms Katz said Ms Burchill would be the key driver of health reforms central to meeting the care needs of an ageing population.

“[The position] is central to the agency’s strategic direction for the next three years,” she said

Ms Burchill and Mr Roberts were involved in a five-year dispute with a United Kingdom heart surgeon which eventually cost British taxpayers up to 5 million pounds.

Dr Raj Mattu was suspended from Walsgrave Hospital (later University Hospitals) allegedly for bullying two junior colleagues, four months before Mr Roberts became CEO. Dr Mattu was reinstated in August 2007, a month after Mr Roberts left his job. Last month, Mr Roberts told Tasmanian Times that he was unaware of the outcome. “I tried to resolve it. It didn’t get sorted in my time there,” he said.

In June, Health Minister Lara Giddings confirmed during Budget Estimates, that Ms Burchill’s appointment was made a month after the public service moratorium was announced. Ms Giddings also said Mr Roberts had given Ms Burchill’s name and those of two other candidates, to a recruitment company but that he had no part in the selection process.

The recruitment company engaged to head hunt was Edward W Kelley and Associates. Ms Katz told Tasmanian Times that in May last year, the company recommended seven candidates and a selection panel, chaired by the Director General of Health Services in WA, Dr Peter Flett, interviewed three candidates in August.

“Following reference checks, it was the panel’s unanimous recommendation that Alice Burchill be offered the role,” she said.

The Director of the WA Health Reform Implementation Taskforce Michael Pervan was on the list of the seven candidates presented by Edward W Kelley and Associates, but he was not interviewed by the selection panel. TT understands he headed the list. When asked why he was not interviewed, Ms Katz said: “The names of other candidates [other than Ms Burchill] remain confidential.”

Mr Pervan is now Acting CEO of the Royal Hobart Hospital. The position of CEO was advertised nearly a year ago but has yet to be filled.

“The new CEO appointment is being progressed and interviews will be held in the next few weeks,” Ms Katz said.