Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has been upstaged by the Tasmanian government.
In a release sent out by the Tasmanian Premier, Lara Giddings, on Monday, the Apple Isle’s Attorney-General Brian Wrightman named his state’s outgoing Ombudsman and Health Complaints Commissioner, Leon Atkinson-MacEwen, as the successful applicant for the newly created Queensland Health position.
Mr Wrightman thanked Mr Atkinson-MacEwen for his service to Tasmania and wished him well in his “fantastic” new role as Queensland’s “first Health Ombudsman”.
Which was news to staff at the state’s Health Quality and Complaints Commission, which is to be abolished to make way for the inaugural Office of the Health Ombudsman.
HQCC staff, who are still feeling skittish after learning their jobs would not be guaranteed in the new office, were bemused to learn the identity of the man who held their employment futures in his hands, on social media.
Twitter user @jan_darr, found the Tasmanian release and sent it out to her followers on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Mr Springborg admitted it was not how he had hoped to announce the appointment.
“I understand the Tasmanian Government needed to inform its staff about the departure of its Health Ombudsman, which unfortunately made the news public, before the required process could be followed in Queensland,” he said.
“Appointments to government positions in Queensland are required to be notified in the Queensland Government Gazette prior to any public announcement. As such, I am looking forward to welcoming Mr Atkinson-MacEwen to Queensland at the end of the month.”
Mr Springborg said the appointment of Mr Atkinson-MacEwen would “deliver a transparent, accountable health complaints management system that will effectively deal with health service complaints”.
“The confusion that has created so many problems in the existing system will be removed, with health consumers able to make complaints to one entity - the Health Ombudsman,” he said.
“Mr Atkinson-MacEwen's first task will be to oversee the set-up of the Office of the Health Ombudsman, including its staffing complement.”
According to the Tasmanian Ombudsman website, Mr Atkinson-MacEwen had previously worked for the Department of Defence, the National Crime Authority, the ABC, the Australian Antarctic Division and the Tasmanian Treasury Department.
The government will formally announce his new role later this month.