Investigator wants whistleblower status

A FORMER Queensland Medical Board investigator, who has made allegations about dodgy malpractice in the state's hospitals, wants whistleblower status.

Jo Barber, who now works for Queensland Health's Ethical Standard Unit although claims she has been effectively stood down since speaking out, said she was concerned Crime and Misconduct Commission chair Ross Martin had referred to her as a "potential whistleblower".

Mr Martin has asked recently retired Queensland Court of Appeal Justice Richard Chesterman to conduct a preliminary assessment of the allegations "related to medical matters that may reveal misconduct".

He said, in a statement, that "whistleblowers can sometimes be mistrustful" and he wanted to "help allay" her concerns about the handling of her information and to establish a framework for investigation.

But Ms Barber, who said she had provided a 43-page document, tape recordings and other documents to support her allegations, said she believed not having whistleblower status would hamper any evidence she could give to Mr Chesterman when she spoke outside the CMC building on Wednesday.

"He's a barrister, he can read legislation. If he's saying he's looked at that legislation and doesn't believe I'm a whistleblower, then he's flagging to me that I don't have immunity from committing offences, that I've already committed them and will commit them if I continue to cooperate," she said.

 "The CMC are named in the complaints I made as people who deliberately, or by neglect, failed to provide me information and watched as Queensland Health covered up two major investigations, the Bundaberg Hospital investigation and the Townsville investigation and then rubberstamped it.

"At Bundaberg, there was an allegation there was 37 doctors working there not credentialed over 18 months."

Mr Martin said on Wednesday that whistleblower protection could only be enacted or engaged if it were tested.

"It's not about an official or someone like myself cloaking her with some sort of status," he said.

"The (Public Interest Disclosure) Act isn't structured that way.

"It's not my position to advise her on that. It would be wrong in the same way it would be for police to give free legal advice.

"If there's some sort of test that's how it's engaged, if there's some particular issue that emerges."



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