Whistleblowers get ‘confidential’ settlement

TWO nurse whistleblowers have reached a financial settlement with the Sunshine Coast Private Hospital after their dismissal almost two years ago.

Buderim doctor Peter Herbert said Lorraine Jefferson and Lesley Pousette had reached an undisclosed settlement in their favour with Uniting Care Health on Monday.

It included payment of their legal costs and references to allow them to resume their careers as mental health nurses.

He said one of the two doctors whose conduct they had complained about repeatedly was no longer registered and the other would face a public examination before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal to determine his continued fitness to practise, following referral by the Australian Health Professionals Regulatory Agency.

Dr Herbert said the two nurses had suffered enormously during the past 24 months, but their stance had contributed to significant reforms in the regulatory framework in Queensland.

He said Health Minister Lawrence Springborg had abolished the Health Quality Complaints Commission, stripped AHPRA of much of its investigative powers and introduced the office of Health Ombudsman and Commissioner.

Dr Herbert called on Mr Springborg to launch a proper external investigation into why complaints laid internally were not acted on more swiftly.

The lawyer for the two women, Peter Boyce, said the settlement terms were confidential, and the issues raised by his clients should be looked at more closely by Mr Springborg.

"There is no doubt that they are whistleblower victims. There are more rounds to go in this," he said.

Mr Boyce also called on Mr Springborg to ensure there were no impediments to their employment in the public sector. A spokesman for the minister previously

stated there were no barriers to their employment in Queensland Health.

Mr Boyce said although the terms of the settlement were confidential, there were no constraints to the nurses continuing to raise issues about the two doctors at the centre of their complaints.

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