Outgoing Health Department boss Martin Bowles joins Calvary Health Care
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Outgoing Health Department boss Martin Bowles joins Calvary Health Care

Outgoing Health Department boss Martin Bowles is set to join the Calvary Health Care network in November, ending his 40 year public service career.

His surprise departure from Health, announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week, comes as Calvary boss Mark Doran leaves the organisation.

Outgoing Department of Health secretary Martin Bowles.

Outgoing Department of Health secretary Martin Bowles.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The move also sets up a reshuffle of some key federal department secretary positions in Canberra.

Calvary announced Mr Bowles' appointment on Tuesday.

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The organisation runs the Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce and Calvary John James Hospital, and is preparing to open the new Bruce private hospital next month.

Founded by Catholic order the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary, Calvary operates 15 public and private hospitals nationally as well as 17 aged care homes.

Mr Bowles leaves the Department of Health on Friday and begins his new job in Sydney on November 1.

Little Company of Mary Health Care chair, John Watkins, said Mr Bowles brought vast experience in health and excellent leadership capacity to Calvary.

"Martin's obvious capability, outstanding leadership qualities and deep commitment to serving the people of Australia strongly aligns with Calvary's mission to provide quality, compassionate health care to our communities, including the most vulnerable and those reaching the end of their life, Mr Watkins said.

"As national chief executive officer, Martin is extremely well placed to continue Calvary's plans to grow and strengthen our business, following on from Mark Doran's exceptional leadership and contribution to Calvary during the past nine years."

Before moving to head up Health in October 2014, Mr Bowles led the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and was a deputy secretary at the department of Climate Change and Energy.

He has worked for the Queensland and NSW state governments and the Defence Department, where he was recently considered to succeed Dennis Richardson as secretary.

Mr Turnbull named his chief of staff Greg Moriarty to the Defence top job in July.

Health Minister Greg Hunt, who reportedly had a difficult working relationship with Mr Bowles, paid tribute to his tenure at Health, thanking him for advice, guidance and overseeing significant organisational change at the department.

Tom McIlroy is a political reporter for the Financial Review in the federal press gallery at Parliament House.