Queensland Health is a sad shell of what was formerly a well-organized department which operated very efficiently. To give some idea of the decline, the writer was in 1983 able to get a hernia operation 21 hours after reporting the injury. In 2010, a similar injury to the other side took five months from reporting it to getting an appointment with the surgeon in order to have the operation.
In recent years a series of scandals have rocked the department. First, the Health Minister Gordon Nuttall was jailed for corruption, then it was discovered that owing to failure of the vetting process, an incompetent surgeon, Jayant Patel was appointed to Bundaberg Hospital and caused a number of deaths and serious injuries to patients. A faulty payroll system was introduced which after the expenditure of hundreds of millions is still causing problems.
Now some shyster who was not adequately checked out, prior to being appointed to a position in the financial section has managed to embezzle $16 million from the department. He has prior form in New Zealand and an investigation last year was dropped after the department assured police that such a thing couldn’t happen:
More than $5 million is believed to have been transferred from the department's accounts through a sophisticated network over the past three years. A further $11 million was shifted in a single transaction in the past fortnight. …So in spite of warnings that this could happen, The department went blithely on reassuring itself that it couldn’t happen to them. No eyebrows were raised, no effort was launched to correct the problem, and despite the warning from the Auditor General, the government failed to act. The Premier is demanding answers, perhaps she should ask herself first.
An identical complaint about 12 months ago to the Crime and Misconduct Commission about Morehu-Barlow, who also goes by the first name Joel, was dismissed by a Queensland Health internal investigation.
However, a low-level financial officer is believed to have become suspicious and raised concerns with the chief finance officer this week. "By forging the name of a senior officer who had authority to transfer large sums, this middle-level officer has been able to deceive those that are there," Health Minister Geoff Wilson said.
The Auditor-General also failed to discover the multimillion-dollar ruse in his frequent checks but warned recently of risks because of lax financial controls. "There appears to have been a loss of focus across the public sector on maintaining basic financial controls with the number of agencies failing to maintain these controls increasing," a report in July said.