Leaked email backs sacked hospital bureaucrat

A LEAKED email has outlined the success of a Queensland public hospital senior executive before he was controversially sacked last week, praising his commitment to "patient-centred care".

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service chief executive Adrian Pennington's contract was terminated "effective immediately" by board chair Peta Jamieson on September 30.

The Courier-Mail has obtained an email, written by Bundaberg Hospital director of medical services Sue Page, which compares Wide Bay HHS before he took over as chief executive in 2012 to now.

Dr Page talks of specialist outpatient department waiting times of up to 12 years for some conditions before Mr Pennington's arrival.

She said wait times for some elective surgery before he took over as chief executive were more than three years, including endoscopy, which can be used to screen for issues, such as bowel cancer.

Other issues at that time included clinical incidents not being investigated in a timely manner, poor workplace culture and "significant breaches in credentialing processes" - the formal procedure of verifying the qualifications and experience of medical staff so they did not work outside their scope of expertise.

The email said that after more than seven years with Mr Pennington at the helm of Wide Bay HHS, it had "zero overdue surgery wait times" and specialist outpatient department waits were down to nine months.

"We still have recruitment issues, but our senior medical officers have almost doubled," Dr Page wrote.

She said that earlier this year, Wide Bay was ranked number one out of Queensland's 16 HHS's on key performance indicators.

"Importantly, this has been by building teams and a sense of personal responsibility for patient care at every level," Dr Page said.

"By building local capacity and expertise rather than a cycle of consultancies, we are seeing greater stability in our executive and clinical director teams and with this a flow-on effect through high quality patient outcomes.

"We need to acknowledge that these changes are not solely the work of one man, but we also need to acknowledge that one man has made a difference that is nationally and internationally recognised."

The Courier-Mail understands Dr Page has also written to the Wide Bay HHS board, on behalf of Bundaberg Hospital clinical staff, wanting answers to a series of blunt questions.

Mr Pennington's sacking followed a Facebook post he wrote amid a "mental health crisis" in July, which included criticism of Ms Jamieson.

The crisis followed relationship issues, the pending death of a close colleague, as well as workplace pressures.

Bundaberg Hospital senior doctors have asked the board whether Mr Pennington's dismissal, if triggered by the social media post, was "consistent with broader messaging around safe and supportive workplaces and initiatives such as the Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework".

Ms Jamieson has confirmed the board received a letter from Dr Page last week, on behalf of senior doctors at Bundaberg Hospital.

"I responded immediately, and indicated that acting chief executive Debbie Carroll and I were happy to meet with Dr Page and the clinicians to enable us to listen to their questions directly," she said.

"This meeting is in the process of being arranged."

Attempts have been made to contact Mr Pennington.

Has this story raised issues for you? Help is available.