Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital executive claimed $500,000 in cancer research funding, CCC finds

| 19.09,19. 11:55 PM |

Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital executive claimed $500,000 in cancer research funding, CCC finds

Photo: The overtime and leave payments came from hospital funds designed for cancer clinical trials. (ABC News: Andrew O'Connor)

More than half a million dollars meant for a cancer research unit at a Perth hospital has been claimed in overtime and annual leave payments by a former manager despite hospital records showing she was often not entitled to the money, WA's corruption watchdog has found.

In a report tabled in State Parliament, the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) formed two opinions of serious misconduct against Judith Innes-Rowe, a clinical trials manager at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital for 23 years.

CCC Commissioner John McKechnie said funding for the clinical trials unit came from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and clinical research organisations, and was to be used for cancer clinical trials.

"Some of that money sadly, obviously hasn't been used for clinical trials, but been taken in overtime," he said.

The report found systemic weaknesses in a 30-year-old payroll system at the WA Health Department, along with a "lack of appropriate managerial vigilance", allowed Ms Innes-Rowe to bypass normal authorisations.

It said this was an ongoing risk and the system needed to be updated as a priority to help prevent fraudulent claims and protect the department's $4.3 billion payroll.

The report said Ms Innes-Rowe had claimed $508,413.35 in overtime between July 2012 and November 2017.

"Some of it appeared to constitute a benefit to which she may not have been entitled," the report said.

It concluded she had effectively entered the signature of consultant clinical oncologist Professor Michael Millward, to whom she reported, on overtime claim forms.

Professor Millward told the CCC he "wouldn't regularly look at them".

"The claims were effectively approved by his inaction," the report said.

'Overtime' claimed when not at work

Records analysed by the corruption watchdog revealed many occasions when Ms Innes-Rowe claimed to be working overtime but was apparently not at the hospital.

According to the report, that included 14 weekend days when she claimed overtime at double-time rates when there was no evidence of her being at the hospital.

This alone cost $16,000 in funding provided to the cancer unit.

The CCC also found over a five-year period, records showed she was absent for 125 days without submitting an annual leave form.

During a three-week period in July and August 2012, there was no evidence Ms Innes-Rowe was at work and she did not submit a leave form.

It said during a three-year period she only submitted one day of annual leave, but records showed she went to visit family in New Zealand three times on non-work related trips.

Yet when her employment with the North Metropolitan Health Service (NMHS) ended in December 2018, she was paid out about $65,000 in lieu of annual leave as part of what the CCC said was a "false final payout".

In November 2017, changes to the overtime claims system meant a higher level of authorisation was required and Ms Innes-Rowe stopped claiming overtime at that point.

Re-hired despite conduct concerns

Despite two internal NMHS reports recommending disciplinary action against Ms Innes-Rowe, she was re-hired through a recruitment agency in January 2019.

"How that happens, I have no idea," Mr McKechnie said.

NMHS said she was let go immediately after being re-hired, because she had effectively retired when she had left the month before, and it would have been inappropriate to take her back on.

Mr McKechnie suggested a central register could be established so people being considered for a job could be checked against any outstanding allegations.

He said the unsubstantiated claims should never have happened "but the concern is whether the same systems are in place that can allow it to continue to happen to other people".

Health Support Services, which runs the payroll for WA Health's 52,000 employees, is currently preparing a business case to replace its payroll and rostering systems.

"Without implementation of a new smart electronic payroll and rostering platform, employees may continue to bypass the controls in place to gain benefits to which they are not entitled," the report said.

NMHS said it would try to recoup the funds that had been provided to Ms Innes-Rowe.


(Votes: 0)

Other News

The Catholic Church has its own secret investigation into Pell. Here's who is running it Two arrested over murder of Danielle Easey who was dumped in creek wrapped in plastic Mum uses son's deadly drink-driving crash as warning to teens Alleged Darwin gunman Benjamin Glenn Hoffmann to plead not guilty, lawyer says Woman shot by police in Geraldton in WA's Mid West dies in hospital Rain reaches parts of western NSW but no real relief for farmers battling drought Man accused of indecently assaulting child in shopping centre Man charged with murder over Perth woman's death NAB customers hit with sophisticated email banking phishing scam Governer-General visits Perth Muslim Community Genetics laboratory fire in Yarram destroys 100 cryogenic cylinders containing cattle semen NSW wild weather brings surprise snow to Goulburn and Blue Mountains, and heavy rain for Sydney ASIO warns of terrorism risk from stripping Australian suspects of citizenship Three Liberal MPs to move spill motion against Premier over abortion bill Julie Bishop offers to help Perth travel bloggers, Melbourne uni lecturer locked up in Iran Man found dead in caravan in Scoresby Volkswagen reaches multi-million-dollar settlement in Australian 'dieselgate' scandal Two women dead after car, bus collide on Indian Ocean Drive near the Pinnacles north of Perth Boy was inside parked car in Nunawading where man and woman died, police say Oil prices jump 13pc following Saudi Arabia attack, but fuel prices should not follow yet Extinction Rebellion protest in Melbourne leads to dozens of arrests after bridge shut down Emergency warnings downgraded as wind change eases threat to northern NSW homes Parents 'used 14-year-old son to smuggle drugs' Drugs lab discovered after Sydney house fire Two men found dead inside drifting boat off Central Queensland Reserve Bank may slash rates to 0.25 per cent, but 'reluctant' to dip into negative territory Gardeners to face backyard blitz on netting with new laws proposed to protect wildlife Google Earth leads to discovery of William Moldt's remains, 22 years after he went missing Smoking and vaping ban tipped for Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall Gladys Liu did not disclose membership of Chinese Government-linked organisations before Liberal Party preselection