A former Tasmanian Health Service North-West manager victimised employees and gained inappropriate personal advantage during his time in the position, an Integrity Commission report has found.
The report, tabled in Tasmanian Parliament on Tuesday morning, found former Corporate Services director Simon Foster had mistreated employees and underperformed in his role over many years.
The commission said the service had not adequately supervised or managed Mr Foster despite having received formal complaints by employees.
The report stated he had intimidated employees and exercised improper punitive action.
It said Mr Foster had been absent from work without explanation and that there was evidence he had been sleeping on the job.
The commission, however, noted Mr Foster had health issues that had not been disclosed to his supervisors that might have contributed to his behaviour.
The report said his conduct resulted in project delays, including the North West Regional Hospital’s helipad, which needed to be closed after former Premier Will Hodgman had announced its opening.
The closure prevented an emergency helicopter from landing the following day.
The report found Mr Foster gained personal advantage through the exclusive use of a government vehicle intended to be used by other employees, submitting on-call claims he was not entitled to, and by removing equipment from work for personal use.
It found he made an appointment within the service to a person close to him and awarded a contract to somebody known to him without declaring a conflict of interest.
Mr Foster left the State Service in July 2019 one month after being served with a notice of investigation by the Integrity Commission.
Health Department secretary Kathrine Morgan-Wicks said the Tasmanian Health Service took conflict of interest matters extremely seriously.
“We have strengthened policies and processes around conflict of interest and will continue to have these embedded in our workforce through appropriate training and support,” she said.
Ms Morgan-Wicks said new governance structures implemented in February across the service provided greater local management and oversight to better support staff
“I recognise that these findings are extremely disappointing, but they do not reflect on the vast majority of our workforce that has, particularly in recent times through the coronavirus pandemic, demonstrated exceptional professionalism and dedication,” she said.
Health Minister Sarah Courtney said Mr Foster’s behaviour was unacceptable.
“My very clear expectation is that the learnings from this investigation will lead to further cultural improvement across the entire THS,” she said.